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220.77 Operating as a major trafficker

Volume Drug Trafficking Charges in New York
In the realm of drug crimes, a charge of volume trafficking is certainly among the most serious. Anyone accused of possessing, distributing or selling substantial amounts of illegal drugs needs to understand precisely how serious their situation is. Major trafficking represents an offense under both New York and federal law, and as such, the implications for those who lack an aggressive defense strategy can be dire.

Those who engage in high volume drug trafficking are vulnerable to prosecution by state or federal authorities, both of which will pursue cases of this nature very zealously. For charges in this category to be issued, an individual needs to have trafficked in drugs that have a value greater than $75,000, no matter if the substances in question happen to be LSD, heroin, fentanyl, cocaine or another dangerous drug.

It is important to note that New York Penal Code §220.77, also referred to as a “Kingpin Charge” can be issued against an individual believed to be the director of an enterprise related to controlled substance distribution during a period of one year or less. During that time, the enterprise must engage in the sale of one or multiple illegal substances and must collect proceeds from the activity that total no less than $75,000.

Charges of this nature may also issue if a suspect serves as a profiteer and illegally and knowingly sells narcotics and receives proceeds of at least $75,000 within a six-month period. One who illegally and knowingly possesses drugs valued at over $75,000 within a six-month span with the intent to sell them can also be charged pursuant to this statute.

When charges of high volume trafficking are lodged, the stakes for defendants are very high indeed. Conviction almost always results in severe sentences, a fact which is true even for first offenses. The sanctions ultimately imposed will depend on a number of critical factors such as the defendant’s prior criminal drug history, the amount and type of drugs in question, the existence of a conspiracy, whether firearms were involved, whether injuries or death resulted and whether laundering of drug proceeds occurred.

If charged as a state offense, major trafficking in New York is a Class A-1 felony. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that the ramifications of conviction are life-changing. Minimum sentences run from 15-40 years, with certain offenders possibly eligible for life terms. Massive financial fines rising into the six figures may also be imposed. Individuals who are not given life sentences will likely find it almost impossible to lead a normal life once they have paid their debt to society, because the felony drug record will haunt their employment, personal and community prospects indefinitely.

The seriousness of the implications that follow a conviction on major trafficking charges cannot be overstated. It is vital that accused individuals keep in mind that viable defense strategies often do exist in such cases. For instance, it may be possible to successfully challenge the constitutionality of the searches and seizures from which the prosecution obtained evidence, ultimately preventing its use at trial. It may also be possible to demonstrate that the drugs forming the basis of the charge did not in fact have a monetary value greater than $75,000 as required by the statute for conviction.

The bottom line is that major trafficking or “kingpin” drug charges in New York must never be taken lightly by those facing them. The potentially devastating impact of conviction necessitates a prompt and determined response. Effective defense tactics can often be employed by an experienced drug crimes defense lawyer, but defendants have no time to waste in enlisting that assistance.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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