Southern Arizona is a hot-bed of drug trafficking and drug importation, and Tucson, located less than 60 miles from the international border, is no exception. Dozens of people arrested for drug trafficking ad immigration crimes pack the jury boxes and gallery benches during the Tucson federal court’s daily arraignment hearings. Even an exceeding patient and experienced federal magistrate takes several hours to navigate this flood of criminal prosecutions.
Federal criminal prosecution is a life-changing experience for any person accused of any federal crime, no matter how minor. Federal drug trafficking (which includes but is not limited to manufacturing, importation and possession with intent to distribute) is among the most serious crimes in the federal criminal code. Offenders risk lengthy criminal sentences that can end any semblance of a normal life.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences & the United States Sentencing Guidelines
With passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988, Congress required the federal courts to impose mandatory minimum sentences on persons convicted of trafficking certain quantities of drugs. Further, trafficking means21 USC § 841(b)(1)(B) provides for a minimum penalty of five years imprisonment for “100 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana.” The law applies a five years mandatory minimum sentence for trafficking in 5 grams of methamphetamine, 100 grams of heroin, or 500 grams of cocaine. Id.
The United States Sentencing Guidelines, which the federal courts must consider when passing sentence of a criminal defendant, also call for lengthy prison sentences for drug trafficking based on the amount of drugs at issue. For a person convicted of trafficking in 10 kilograms or more of marijuana, even if she has no other criminal record of any kind, the US Sentencing guidelines recommends a sentence of 18-24 months. USSG § 2D1.1. If the same person were convicted of trafficking in 60 kilograms of marijuana, however, the Guidelines stiffen the recommended sentence significantly to an unadjusted sentence of 41-51 months. By trafficking in drugs such as methamphetamines or heroin, a defendant risks even lengthier sentences that may appear to some as draconian.
Choosing an Attorney for Drug Trafficking Defense
When facing federal criminal prosecution for any drug crime, and especially drug trafficking, it is essential for a criminal defendant to immediately retain the brightest, most experienced and effective, in short, the best criminal defense attorney possible.
Michael’s extensive experience defending persons accused of trafficking encompasses a wide variety of offenses, including backpacking and small load cases; wiretap matters and larger conspiracies; money laundering and sizeable forfeitures of real estate, cash, and other assets; cases involving a range of controlled substances (e.g., marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, steroid distribution conspiracies); misbranded FDA approved drugs; diverted prescription drugs; and cases involving medical doctors, end users and dealers. In short, Michael has handled numerous Federal drug trafficking and diversion matters, appearing as the lead criminal defense attorney in United States District Courts in Tucson, Phoenix, and El Paso, Texas. He has also appeared in the 5th and 9th Circuit courts of Appeal on such matters. If you or a loved one find yourself indicted or investigated for a Federal drug trafficking offense of any kind, feel free to contact Michael for a confidential consultation.