Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers made the largest fentanyl bust in history when they found 254 pounds of fentanyl, and nearly 400 pounds of methamphetamine inside a truck at the border of the United States and Mexico on February 1. The drugs were stashed in a hidden compartment under a load of cucumbers, which the Nogales, Arizona-based CBP officers discovered because of their drug-sniffing dog. The truck driver, a 26-year-old male whose nationality has not been disclosed, will now face federal drug trafficking charges.
The federal penalties for dealing fentanyl are extremely harsh. Even the federal penalties for simple possession are significant. If you or a loved one has gotten caught up in a federal drug investigation, you need to act now and retain an experienced drug crimes lawyer to fend off the charges. Contact Luftman, Heck & Associates today at (614) 500-3836 for a free consultation of your case.
Federal Penalties for Fentanyl Trafficking
There are two tiers of fentanyl trafficking penalties under federal law, which depend on the amount of fentanyl you were caught with:
40 – 399 Grams
For a first offense, you can expect five to 40 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of twenty years if your alleged trafficking activities caused a death or serious bodily injury. You may also receive fines of up to $5 million.
400 Grams or More
For a first offense, the penalty is 10 years to life in prison, along with possible fines of up to $10 million. If a death or serious bodily injury can be connected to the fentanyl trafficking, the possible prison sentence is 20 years to life.
Fentanyl Laws in Ohio
In August 2018, Governor Kasich signed Senate Bill 1 into the law, which increased the penalties for many offenses involving fentanyl. When only small amounts are involved, trafficking fentanyl is a fifth-degree felony, punishable by six months to one year in prison, and $2,500 in fines. The penalties increase drastically as the amount of fentanyl you get caught with increases. The harsher sentences for fentanyl were made possible by Senate Bill 1’s re-classification of fentanyl-related compounds as Schedule I substances – the most serious category of drugs.
The effectiveness of these tougher laws in curbing the state’s fentanyl crisis remains to be seen. Advocates of the increased penalties believe that would-be-dealers will decide not to distribute fentanyl because of the harsher consequences of getting caught. On the other hand, there is no evidence from the United States’ decades-long war on drugs that increased penalties deters drug trafficking to any measurable extent.
If history is any guide, these harsher sentences will increase the prison population of the state while doing little to reduce the demand that drug dealers are willing to meet – regardless of the risk involved. Prosecutors will aggressively pursue drug trafficking cases against suspects, even where evidence of their intent to distribute may be lacking. Some innocent people will face criminal prosecution, and thousands who need treatment for substance abuse will end up behind bars.
A Columbus Drug Crimes Lawyer Can Help
As this recent historical drug bust shows, fentanyl is flowing into the country at an unprecedented rate to meet a demand for opiates that has reached epidemic proportions. State and federal authorities are pursuing drug traffickers and users with unprecedented zeal. If you get charged with a drug crime, you need aggressive legal representation to avoid the devastating consequences of a conviction. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, we will fight for your rights at every stage of the criminal justice process. Contact us today at (614) 500-3836 to schedule a free and confidential evaluation of your case.