Drug Importation

Because Florida’s 1,350 miles of coastline is the second-longest in the nation, the state has long been a common destination for people seeking to import drugs into the United States. While numerous federal agencies have increased their efforts in recent decades to prevent importation of controlled substances, several people are charged every year with bringing illegal drugs into the Sunshine State.

Importing illegal or prescription drugs into Florida from another state or country can result in federal charges because only the federal government has the jurisdictional authority to prosecute alleged offenses committed in international waters or over state lines. When a federal agency is investigating a case involving the importation of a controlled substance, agents will often charge people with having participated in a conspiracy—an offense that, no matter how minor an alleged offender’s role actually was, is subject to the same punishments as having committed the crime in question.

Lawyer for Drug Importation Defense in Tallahassee, Florida

If you believe that you might be currently under investigation or you have already been arrested for allegedly importing drugs into Florida, you absolutely should not say anything to authorities without legal representation. The Pumphrey Law protects the rights of people facing all kinds of drug charges in federal courts.

Our criminal defense attorneys in Tallahassee aggressively defend clients all over Jackson County, Gulf County, Calhoun County, Taylor County, Madison County, and Leon County. You can take advantage of a completely free initial consultation that will let our lawyers review your case as soon as you call (850) 681-7777 today.


Overview of Drug Importation Charges in Leon County


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Penalties for Importation of Illegal Drugs in Florida

Importation of a controlled substance into Florida from another state or country is commonly referred to as “smuggling.” Importation offenses are federally prosecuted as drug trafficking crimes.

The possible penalties for alleged trafficking offenses depend on the types and amounts of the controlled substance involved. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lists the following federal penalties for trafficking offenses:

Controlled Substance

Amount

Fine

Prison Sentence

Cocaine

500-4,999 grams

First Offense: Mandatory minimum five-year sentence up to 40 years in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20-year sentence up to life in prison.

Second Offense: Mandatory minimum 10-year sentence up to life in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, a life sentence.

First Offense: Up to $5 million for individuals, $25 million for non-individuals.

Second Offense: Up to $8 million for individuals, $50 million for non-individuals.

Cocaine base

28-279 grams

Fentanyl

40-399 grams

Fentanyl analogue

10-99 grams

Heroin

100-999 grams

LSD

1-9 grams

Pure methamphetamine

5-49 grams

Methamphetamine mixture

50-499 grams

Pure PCP

10-99 grams

PCP mixture

100-999 grams

Cocaine

5 kilograms or more

First Offense: Mandatory minimum 10-year sentence up to life in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20-year sentence up to life in prison.

Second Offense: Mandatory minimum 20-year sentence up to life in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, a life sentence.

Third or Subsequent Offense: Life in prison.

First Offense: Up to $10 million for individuals, $50 million for non-individuals.

Second Offense: Up to $20 million for individuals, $75 million for non-individuals.

Third or Subsequent Offense: Up to $20 million for individuals, $75 million for non-individuals.

Cocaine base

280 grams or more

Fentanyl

400 grams or more

Fentanyl analogue

100 grams or more

Heroin

1 kilogram or more

LSD

10 grams or more

Pure methamphetamine

50 grams or more

Methamphetamine mixture

500 grams or more

Pure PCP

100 grams or more

PCP mixture

1 kilogram or more

Other Schedule I and Schedule II Substances

Any amount

First Offense: Up to 20 years in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20-year sentence up to life in prison.

Second Offense: Up to 30 years in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, life imprisonment.

First Offense: Up to $1 million for individuals, $5 million for non-individuals.

Second Offense: Up to $2 million for individuals, $10 million for non-individuals.

Any drug product containing gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)

Any amount

Flunitrazepam

1 gram or more

Marijuana

1,000 kilograms or more marijuana mixture, or 1,000 or more marijuana plants

First Offense: Mandatory minimum 10-year sentence up to life in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20-year sentence up to life in prison.

Second Offense: Mandatory minimum 20-year sentence up to life in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, a life sentence.

First Offense: Up to $10 million for individuals, $50 million for non-individuals.

Second Offense: Up to $20 million for individuals, $75 million for non-individuals.

Marijuana

100 to 999 kilograms marijuana mixture, or 100 to 999 marijuana plants

First Offense: Mandatory minimum five-year sentence up to 40 years in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20-year sentence up to life in prison.

Second Offense: Mandatory minimum 10-year sentence up to life in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, a life sentence.

First Offense: Up to $5 million for individuals, $25 million for non-individuals.

Second Offense: Up to $8 million for individuals, $50 million for non-individuals.

Marijuana

50 to 99 kilograms marijuana mixture, or 50 to 99 marijuana plants

First Offense: Up to 20 years in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, mandatory minimum 20-year sentence up to life in prison.

Second Offense: Up to 30 years in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, life imprisonment.

First Offense: Up to $1 million for individuals, $5 million for non-individuals.

Second Offense: Up to $2 million for individuals, $10 million for non-individuals.

Hashish

More than 10 kilograms

Hashish Oil

More than 1 kilogram

Marijuana

Less than 50 kilograms marijuana (Not including 50 or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight), or 1 to 49 marijuana plants

First Offense: Up to five years in prison.

Second Offense: Up to 10 years in prison.

First Offense: Up to $250,000 for individuals, $1 million for non-individuals.

Second Offense: Up to $500,000 for individuals, $2 million for non-individuals.

Hashish

10 kilograms or less

Hashish Oil

1 kilogram or less

Other Schedule III Drugs

Any amount

First Offense: Up to 10 years in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, up to 15 years in prison.

Second Offense: Up to 20 years in prison. If the case involves death or serious bodily injury, up to 30 years in prison.

First Offense: Up to $500,000 for individuals, $2.5 million for non-individuals.

Second Offense: Up to $1 million for individuals, $5 million for non-individuals.

All other Schedule IV Drugs (other than one gram or more of Flunitrazepam)

Any amount

First Offense: Up to five years in prison.

Second Offense: Up to 10 years in prison.

First Offense: Up to $250,000 for individuals, $1 million for non-individuals.

Second Offense: Up to $500,000 for individuals, $2 million for non-individuals.

All Schedule V Drugs

Any amount

First Offense: Up to one year in prison.

Second Offense: Up to four years in prison.

First Offense: Up to $100,000 for individuals, $250,000 for non-individuals.

Second Offense: Up to $200,000 for individuals, $500,000 for non-individuals.


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Federal Penalties for Importation of Prescription Drugs

Alleged offenders who import prescription drugs can also be subject to federal charges. Certain prescription drugs are classified as controlled substances and are prosecuted under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), but other prescription drugs not listed under the CSA are prosecuted under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for enforcing violations of the FD&C Act, usually for prescription drugs that have not been approved by the FDA—even if they are legally available for purchase in other counties. The FDA, however, does not object to personal imports of unapproved drugs that FDA in certain circumstances, including the following situations:

  • The drug is for use for a serious condition for which effective treatment is not available in the United States;
  • There is no commercialization or promotion of the drug to U.S. residents;
  • The drug is considered not to represent an unreasonable risk;
  • The individual importing the drug verifies in writing that it is for his or her own use, and provides contact information for the doctor providing treatment or shows the product is for the continuation of treatment begun in a foreign country; and
  • Generally, not more than a 3-month supply of the drug is imported.

Similar to cases involving controlled substances, federal agencies frequently look to file conspiracy charges when cases involve the importation of large amounts of prescription drugs. Under 21 U.S. Code § 333, knowingly importing a prescription drug in violation of 21 U.S. Code § 381 is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000.


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Florida Resources for Drug Importation Charges

Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act — View the full text of the FD&C Act. Learn more about prohibited acts, penalties, and statutes governing imports and exports. Section 384 covers regulations relating to the importation of prescription drugs.

Drug Safety and Availability | Importing Prescription Drugs — You can find various references in this section of the FDA website. Information includes regulatory actions, regulatory policy, and other resources for consumers.


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Find A Drug Importation Defense Lawyer in Tallahassee, FL

Were you arrested or do you think that you might be under investigation for allegedly importing drugs into Florida? Do not make any kind of statement to federal agents until you have contacted the Pumphrey Law.

Our Tallahassee criminal defense attorneys represent clients facing federal charges in Perry, Marianna, Malone, Blountstown, Wewahitchka, Port St. Joe, Graceville, and many other communities in Norther Florida. You can receive a complete evaluation of your case when you call (850) 681-7777 or fill out an online contact form to set up a free, confidential consultation.

This article was last updated October 22, 2016


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Don Pumphrey Jr.
Donald Pumphrey Jr.

Attorney Don Pumphrey Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney.

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