Law & Legal & Attorney Health Law

Definition of Drug Trafficking

    Legal Definition

    • The US. Legal definition of drug trafficking is "an offense under federal, state, or local law that prohibits the manufacture, import, export, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) or the possession of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) with intent to manufacture, import, export, distribute, or dispense."


    • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sets standards that equate a type of drug to a quantity that is considered trafficking. For example, if someone is caught with a large amount of a drug, she obviously is not intending on using the entire amount herself, constituting intent to traffic the drug.


    • Federal laws are more stringent in border states than in others. For example, California and Florida hold the most severe penalties for drug trafficking.


    • The Dictionary of American History states that 8 percent of the world's trade revenue comes from drug trafficking. Clearly, drug trafficking is a profitable crime within the U.S.


    • The penalties of a drug trafficking offense vary by state, type of drug and quantity. In severe cases, a sentence of life in prison is common.


    • For a full description of drug trafficking crimes broken down by drug and the quantity, visit the DEA's website listed in the Resources section of this article.

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