Drug Distribution & Trafficking Lawyers in San Diego
The distribution of all controlled substances is an ongoing focus of law enforcement on the local, state, and federal levels, particularly because of San Diego's close proximity to the Mexican border. These agencies are involved in the task of identifying, arresting, and charging any person who is believed to be in the illegal drug trade.
If you have been charged with drug trafficking in Vista or San Diego, you need a tough lawyer who knows how to handle these cases. Attorney James N. Dicks is a board-certified criminal law specialist who has a history as an LAPD narcotics investigator. His aggressive approach has garnered him a reputation as a prominent San Diego criminal lawyer. For a free consultation, please contact jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys today at (760) 630-2000.
There are two areas of great interest to the authorities:
- Importation: The act of bringing drugs over the U.S. border, into the U.S.
- Distribution: The act of selling, distributing, or trafficking drugs (in particular, large quantities) in the U.S.
Importing drugs from any another country is considered a very serious crime in California. Carrying drugs across state lines can have serious impacts and penalties, including federal charges. And those federal charges often have a minimum sentence of at least 10 years in a federal prison. If a large quantity of drug was being trafficked, life imprisonment may also be an option.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) heavily targets and deals with crimes involving the following:
- Large quantities of low-grade marijuana smuggled into California from Mexico
- The drug MDMA imported mostly from Asian drug organizations
- Mexican black tar heroin imported into California, usually in amounts under 5 pounds
- Importation of numerous types of drugs at once
- Importation of foreign prescription drugs, not approved by the FDA
In California, transporting drugs is a felony, regardless of how far the drugs were taken. Even if the controlled substance was taken from one house to another on the same block, that could potentially carry a sentence of 5 years in prison. Those who are charged with drug trafficking or drug transport across more than two counties in California may face up to 9 years in prison.
Not all drug sales happen between one person and a dealer. Drug trafficking often involves large quantities of controlled substances. And while one person may transport them, they are usually going to be distributed between many different people. Drug trafficking may also include charges for other crimes such as international drug trafficking (especially across the borders of Mexico), money laundering, drug conspiracy, and perhaps gang activity.
California law does not actually draw any distinction between drug dealing and drug trafficking. But if the police, prosecutors, or judges call the offense trafficking instead of dealing, the penalties are likely to be much more severe.
Four counties in Los Angeles have been targeted as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs) by the federal, state, and local authorities. These are Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, and San Bernardino. San Diego and Imperial Counties have also been identified as HIDTAs along the southwest border.
Law enforcement agencies in these areas focus on drugs linked to gang activity, drug pipelines or corridors such as state highways, meth labs, and drugs that are brought into California by “mules,” even when those mules are not aware they have transported drugs.
Prosecutors like to charge drug crimes as a drug conspiracy because this allows them to arrest everyone involved, no matter how minor a role they played in the crime. A drug conspiracy is an agreement to coordinate with at least one other person in the sale, distribution, or transportation of drugs.
If you drove someone to a drug dealer’s home, you could be charged with a drug conspiracy; or if you allowed a drug to be kept in your home overnight, you may also be found guilty of participating in a drug conspiracy.
Those who are convicted of participating in a drug conspiracy may have additional penalties levied against them. Penalties will also be increased if a person was guilty of two drug crimes during a 3-year period while involved in a gang. This does not necessarily mean a person has to be a gang member, he or she must simply have participated or helped the gang. If gang activity was a factor in the drug crime, you could have a mandatory 5 years in prison added to your sentence if convicted.
You may not even realize the types of drugs you were handling could be considered illegal. Even letting a friend use your prescription drugs could land you in serious legal trouble. Drug distribution and trafficking can include any type of controlled substance, including:
- Prescription Drugs
- Methamphetamines (meth)
- Club Drugs (ex: ecstasy/MDMA)
If you have been charged with drug distribution for any of the above mentioned substances, you need to act fast to protect your rights. Get our San Diego drug crime attorney on your side today!
The penalties imposed by the court will be based upon California sentencing guidelines. Those with a prior criminal record get enhanced penalties. If the crime includes distribution to underage individuals, or if any weapons were involved, the penalties are also enhanced.
Specific sentencing for any drug transportation charge will depend on:
- The amount of drug
- The type of drug
- Any previous offenses on your record
- The location where the crime took place (near a school, playground, etc.)
Felony distribution of marijuana can involve 2 to 4 years in state prison, while distribution of cocaine can mean up to 5 years in state prison. Distribution of substances that are used to manufacture meth or PCP can lead to 6 years in state prison. Each drug has a threshold amount over which the penalties increase.
In any drug crime case, the main thing threatening your freedom is the evidence law enforcement has collected. This may include the actual drugs, any drug paraphernalia, call logs, text messages, and more. Therefore, it is usually the primary goal of your drug crimes attorney to have this evidence suppressed or to question its method of acquisition. We may be able to prove an illegal search and seizure took place, or another instance where your constitutional rights were violated.
If you have been accused of drug importation, San Diego criminal defense attorney James N. Dicks may be able to help you.
When you work with jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, you can be confident knowing that:
- We have more than three decades of experience.
- Our founding attorney is a board-certified criminal law specialist.
- Our founding attorney is a former police and narcotics investigator.
- We have tried hundreds of criminal cases.
By using a defense such as illegal search and seizure, we may be able to have the evidence against you suppressed and may be successful in having your charges dropped altogether. Our experience on both sides of the law gives us a serious edge over even the toughest prosecution.
Concerned about your charges? Find out how to defend your case by contacting our firm at (760) 630-2000.
Sample of Case Results
- Transportation of Heroin Exceeding 14.25 Grams -
Charges Reduced to Possession for Sale
View more case results here.
State and Federal Laws on Drug Trafficking
A Guide to Drug Penalties in California
What Laws Are Involved in Smuggling Drugs Across the Border?
How Drug Smuggling Affects Immigration
Drug Trafficking Charges in California
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