Jeremy Gordon
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Federal Drug Importation and Exportation Attorneys

Ever since the war on drugs officially began in 1971, Federal Drug crimes have become one of the most investigated, the most charged and the most litigated types of actions in federal court.  The Federal Bureau of Prisons Statistics Page indicates that more people are in Federal Prison for drugs than any other type of federal crime. In addition, an accused person might find themselves charged in a state court with a state crime only to have federal prosecutors come in and charge the person federally. If you or someone you know is charged with a federal drug crime, it is vitally important that you reach out to the law office of Jeremy Gordon today

The criminal defense attorneys at the Law office of Jeremy Gordon have years of experience in fighting federal drug importation crimes. Our goal is to fight for your freedom at every part of the case whether that is when you are a suspect, whether you are charged and seeking bond, pending trial or sentencing.  Our years of experience in seeking post conviction relief in the form of an appeal or a motion to vacate further guide us in what are the best ways to represent someone charged with a crime.  

What is Federal Drug Importation and Exportation?

Federal Drug Importation and Exportation

Federal Law makes it a crime to import and export controlled substances that are on the federal drug schedule. 

The term Federal Drug Importation and Exportation can be applied to a number of statutes including:

Federal Drug Importation under Title 21, United States Code section 952, which makes it a crime to import controlled substances into the United States or the United States customs territory;

Exportation of Controlled Substances under Title 21, United States Code Section 953, which makes it a crime to export controlled substances except for special scientific purposes or in the course of some treaties and international agreements.  

Improper Labeling and Packaging of Drugs under Title 21, United States Code Section 825, which makes it a crime to distribute controlled substances in a commercial container without the proper documentation, identification, warnings and seals.  This includes anabolic steroids.  

Possession of Controlled Substances on vessels arriving in or departing from the United States, under Title 21, United States Code Section 955, which makes it a crime to bring controlled substances on a plane or a boat.  

Based on the above statutes we can see that federal drug importation can apply to both large amounts of drugs in shipping containers brought from overseas but also can apply to drugs that were purchased legally in another country and brought into the United States.  The broad language of the statute means that both large and small amounts of drugs that are imported and exported can be included here, especially when combined with drug conspiracy laws.

What is A Controlled Substance?

The Drug Enforcement Authority lists and categorizes most drugs into several schedules under the Federal Controlled Substances Act based on their potential for abuse, accepted medical applications in the United States and the safety and potential for addiction.  

Schedule I Drugs:

Drugs that are in Schedule I have a high potential for abuse, no current medical use in treatment in the United States and the  lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug, substance or chemical under medical supervision.  Drugs like LSD, Marijuana and Heroin are in Schedule I.

Schedule II/IIN Drugs:

Drugs that are in Schedule II have a high potential for abuse, currently have an accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S.  or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions, and Abuse of the drug may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.  Oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone, cocaine, codeine , hydrocodone and methamphetamine are all in Schedule II/IIN.

Schedule III/IIIN Drugs:

Drugs listed in schedule III/IIIN have a potential for abuse less than the drugs in schedules I and II, but more than Schedule IV drugs, a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S., and abuse of the drug, substance, or chemical may lead to a moderate to low potential for physical dependence but high psychological dependence.  Examples of Schedule III/IIIN drugs are Tylenol with Codeine and Suboxone.  

Schedule IV Drugs:

Drugs in Schedule IV have “a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence compared to Schedule III and the drug has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S.”  Examples of Schedule IV drugs include Xanax, Soma, Klonopin, Valium and Ambien.  

Schedule V Drugs:

Schedule V Drugs ave a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs in schedule IV,” as well as “currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S. ” Schedule V drugs “primarily consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes.” 

What is the Difference Between State and Federal Drug Trafficking and Importation and Exportation Crimes?

Federal Law Prohibits drug trafficking as well as drug importation and exportation.  Both can be prosecuted in federal court and subject to harsh mandatory minimums as well as the effect of the federal sentencing guidelines.  

The primary difference between drug importation/exportation and drug trafficking is that importation and exportation are more likely to be charged when there is an allegation that the drugs are being brought into the country.  If the allegation is that the drugs have already been brought into the country and the drugs are being sold within the United States then trafficking is more likely.  However note that under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the importation of drugs can serve as a guideline enhancement that may have the ultimate effect of an increased sentence.  See USSG 2D1.1(b)(3) and (5)

Penalties for Drug Importation and Exportation Charges in Federal Court:

Under normal circumstances, without the application of any statutory mandatory minimums or increased guideline ranges due to special conditions a person can be sentenced to a term of punishment up to twenty years for drug importation and exportation charges.  

Impact of Statutory Mandatory Minimums on Drug Importation and Exportation Charges:

Our laws provide that if a person is indicted with and found guilty of the following types of crimes then a statutory mandatory minimum of five to forty years applies to a drug importation and exportation condition:

  • 100 grams or more of heroin;
  • 500 grams or more of powder cocaine;
  • 28 grams or more of cocaine base (crack);
  • 10 grams or more of pure phencyclidine (PCP);
  • 1 gram or more of LSD;
  • 100 kilograms or more of marijuana; or
  • 5 grams or more of pure methamphetamine
  • 50 grams of mixture or substance containing methamphetamine

In addition, an individual can be ordered to pay a fine of up to $5,000,000 under these circumstances.  A person may be subject to a statutory mandatory minimum of life imprisonment if death or serious bodily injury occurs due to the use of the drugs in the case. 

 In addition, an individual found guilty under this part of the law is subject to a term of supervised release of at least 4 years.   If the individual had a prior  conviction, then the court must  impose a term of supervised release of at least 8 years.  

Our laws provide that if a person is indicted with and found guilty of the following types of crimes then a statutory mandatory minimum of ten years applies to a drug importation and exportation condition:

  • 1 kilogram or more of 
  • 5 kilograms or more of powder cocaine
  • 280 grams or more of crack
  • 100 grams or more of pure phencyclidine (PCP)
  • 1 Kilogram or more of a mixture containing phencyclidine (PCP) 
  • 10 grams or more of LSD
  • 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana
  • 1,000 or more marijuana plants
  • 50 grams or more of pure methamphetamine
  • 500 grams or more of a mixture of  methamphetamine

In addition, an individual can be ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000,000 under these circumstances.  A person may be subject to a statutory mandatory minimum of life imprisonment if death or serious bodily injury occurs due to the use of the drugs in the case.  In addition, an individual found guilty under this part of the law is subject to a term of supervised release of at least 5 years.   If the individual had a prior  conviction, then the court must  impose a term of supervised release of at least 10 years. 

Impact of Prior Convictions on Statutory Mandatory Minimums

Our laws provide that a person can be subject to further mandatory minimums if they have been previously convicted of a “serious drug felony” or a “serious violent felony.”  The applicable “serious” prior felony must be a crime for which a defendant served at least 12 months, and occurred less than 15 years ago.  Further, to be “serious” the offense must be punishable by a term of 10 years or more. 

Impact of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Drug Importation and Exportation Charges

Separate from statutory mandatory minimums, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines may also substantially impact sentencing in a federal drug charge.  These are issues that might not be immediately apparent to individuals charged with crimes because their lawyer may not tell them.  In our time as a criminal defense firm we find it vital to have an understanding of these things as soon as possible in the litigation and explain their significance to the client.  

The guidelines put forth by the United States Sentencing Commission can adjust the advisory guideline range higher or lower based on factors learned during the case.  Examples of things that can raise the guideline range include;

How much drugs are attributable to the accused person.
Whether the drugs were imported from another country.
If the accused person was a leader/organizer in the criminal activity.
If death results from drug importation and exportation.
If the drugs were imported from another country.
If the accused person kept a residence to house the drugs (a “stash house”).
Whether the accused person carried a firearm in furtherance of the drug importation and exportation.
Whether there was a person under 18 years of age involved in the criminal activity. 
Whether the accused person gave false statements to impede the investigation. 
Whether the accused person engaged in criminal activity near a school
Whether the person has a prior conviction for a felony 

Examples of things that can lower the guideline range include:

Whether the accused person engaged in substantial cooperation before they were found guilty
Whether the accused person had a minor role in the criminal activity.
Whether the person was subject to safety valve relief

Supervised Release For Federal Drug Importation and Exportation Charges

All convictions of this type come with a term of supervised release.  Additional conditions may be required here such as electronic monitoring, drug classes and further education.  This may be reduced after a year of serving supervised release.  

Federal drug Importation and Exportation convictions cannot be expunged or erased, even with a pardon.  In addition, there are substantial “collateral consequences” such as the inability to receive certain joms or licensing from the state, possible denial of federal benefits and the stigma of a criminal conviction. 

Fines For Federal Drug Importation and Exportation Charges

A person can be subject to a fine in addition to such a term of imprisonment.  The categories of fines are listed above. 

Defenses For Federal Drug Importation and Exportation Charges

Informant Cases/Entrapment

Many federal drug charges involve the sale of illegal drugs to a government informant or an undercover police officer. Entrapment may be an available defense in such cases. This defense is available when a government agent induces someone to commit a crime that they were not predisposed to doing.

Lack of Knowledge of Conspiracy

The federal government frequently relies on the concept of “conspiracy” to bring federal drug charges against individuals. To convict someone of conspiracy, the government does not need any physical evidence, such as seized drugs or large amounts of money. This is because the crime of conspiracy is based on the “agreement” of two or more persons, whether known or known to the defendant, to perform the object of the conspiracy. The object of the conspiracy can vary, but usually takes the form of possession with the intent to distribute drugs, distribution alone, or importation of illegal drugs. Federal drug conspiracy cases are hard to defend, and as such require an experienced attorney that knows how to attack the credibility of the government’s witnesses and to fight vigorously for your innocence.

Search Warrants/Search and Seizure Issues

If there was an illegal search warrant in the case, there may be a defense based on inadequacy of the police affidavit used to obtain the warrant. Untimely execution of the search warrant may also be used as a defense. In some federal drug cases, police may attempt to use a warrant where the information creating probable cause is “stale” because it involves events that occurred weeks or even months prior to the search for illegal drugs. A federal criminal defense attorney may also be able to challenge whether a search warrant was supported by probable cause if it contains insufficient information as to the exact place to be searched and the exact type of drugs that were expected to be found.

Canine Search Issues

If there was a search involving a police dog, a defense may be brought as to the admissibility of drug evidence found if the dog was not properly trained, if the dog did not have any record of success in prior drug recognition, and if the dog’s handler was not properly trained. If a police dog can be shown to be unreliable, there may be a lack of probable cause for a search.

Conclusion

At the Law Office of Jeremy Gordon, we fight aggressively for our clients. We are experienced with federal drug charges, and know what it takes to present a successful defense in a federal criminal case. Safeguarding our clients’ rights, and properly managing their defense, are two of the most important parts of our job. If you are charged with a federal drug case, contact us today to schedule a free phone consultation.

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Reach out to The Law Office of Jeremy Gordon for prompt, courteous and skilled representation as your federal criminal defense attorney.  Use the form below or call us at 972-483-4865 today!