What is Drug Trafficking?

Certain drugs are prohibited in every society, yet those same drugs are easily available to anyone who is seriously looking to purchase them. Cultivating, manufacturing, and distributing illegal substances is what drug trafficking is responsible for. Keep reading to learn more, and to understand what to do if you’ve been accused of drug trafficking. 

Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws. The global drug trafficking industry is estimated to be worth more than $400 billion a year, and accounts for 8% of all international trade. It is an overwhelming crime that, in the United States alone, is responsible for over 100,000 deaths each year. 

Cultivation: Drug cultivation most often refers to growing illegal plants that are classified as controlled substances. These types of drugs that are harvested from plants include: cocaine, heroin, cannabis and synthetic drugs / new psychoactive substances (NPS). 

Manufacture: Manufacturing generally refers to chemically creating controlled substances, whereas cultivation generally refers to growing. Types of drugs that are manufactured include illegal narcotics like methamphetamine, crack cocaine, fentanyl and ecstasy. 

Distribution and Sale: Distribution refers to the movement of the illegal drugs to wherever they will be sold. The actual sale of the drugs is then carried out once the drugs are distributed to the sellers. 

Drug trafficking is an industry built on greed and the desire to live lavishly. The consequences are harsh, but rarely considered. The FBI focuses investigations of drug trafficking on entire criminal enterprises rather than individuals so that all of the components of the criminal operation can be identified. 

Drug Distribution vs. Drug Trafficking 

Oftentimes drug distribution and drug trafficking are terms that are used interchangeably. However, they are different and the penalties for each are distinct as well. Drug distribution is a charge that is determined by the movement of the drugs, whereas drug trafficking is a charge determined by the weight of the drugs. The drugs do not have to be going anywhere, as long as they reach a certain weight, you can be charged with drug trafficking.

New Jersey has tough consequences for any amount of drugs trafficked in its State. Sentences for less than 1 oz. of any drug include 18 months in jail and/or $25,000 in fines. The sentences increase for the amount of drugs trafficked and the type of drug, but expect 10-20 years in prison and upwards of $300,000 in fines if the amount of drugs trafficked is equal to or greater than 25 lbs. 

According to New Jersey law, the penalty for distribution and/or possession are equal and the harshness of the penalty is determined by the amount and type of drug the person is charged with selling. 

The Effects of Drug Trafficking & What’s Being Done About It 

The United States is deeply affected by crime and violence carried out by transnational criminal organizations, including drug cartels. These actions undermine our border security, inflict harm in our communities, and threaten the stability of our allies around the world. Today, the trafficking of overseas-produced illicit fentanyl, heroin, and other opioids into the United States is fueling a national epidemic with fatal consequences. 

In 2022, the Biden administration released their version of a National Drug Control Strategy that focuses on a whole-of-government approach to resolving the drug epidemic in the United States. Part of this plan included a $300 million increase to support the work of Customs and Border Patrol, and another $300 million increase for the Drug Enforcement Administration. This attention to the issue of drug trafficking shows the severity of the effects on society, and the need for improvement. 

What Should I Do if I’m Accused of Drug Trafficking?

If you’ve been accused of drug trafficking in New Jersey, you need to seek the help of a criminal defense attorney immediately. Do not talk to the authorities, and do not contact friends and family to tell them the news. Protecting your rights is imperative to your defense. 

Choosing an experienced attorney is a must. The Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot has been representing individuals charged with drug trafficking since 1972. We provide thoughtful, thorough, and professional service to our clients. 

A drug trafficking conviction can mean very harsh consequences including many years in prison. The work and attention to detail that is required in a drug trafficking defense case should be done by professionals who are experienced. Choose a strong team to represent you and be on your side. 

Have you or someone you know been accused of drug trafficking? Reach out to the qualified defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot today!