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Top Five Drug Trafficking Charges


A drug trafficking offense could be anything from a single transaction to a complex, multistate operation. Generally, money does not need to change hands. If Terry gives her leftover pain pills to a coworker, Terry could be guilty of drug trafficking. Roughly 90 percent of these offenses involve one of the five substances listed below.

These charges are serious, but there are a number of possible defenses. For example, many investigations rely heavily on information from confidential informants. CIs almost always receive money or leniency in exchange for the information they provide. And, many people will say almost anything for love or money.

So, a Tampa criminal defense attorney is normally able to successfully resolve these charges. Even if there is no defense available, prosecutors usually reduce the charges and/or the sentence if their participation level was low (e.g. they were lookouts or peripheral players) or the offense was not violent.

Crack Cocaine

A rock of crack cocaine is usually much smaller than a pebble. So, crack cocaine arrests normally have serious search warrant issues. Officers must almost literally tear apart a vehicle or dwelling to find a single rock. That single rock could mean a long-term prison sentence.

Search warrants must be based on probable cause. Florida law does not define this standard of evidence. But, it is somewhere between reasonable suspicion, which is essentially an evidence-based hunch, and beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard of proof at trial.

As mentioned, many drug trafficking investigations hinge on CI testimony. Unless the CI has provided accurate information in the past, there is some corroborating evidence, or there are other indications of reliability, CI testimony usually does not amount to probable cause.


Most of these arrests involve methamphetamine production. Meth has a number of ingredients. They must all be combined in the proper way and at the proper proportions. It might be illegal to possess meth-making ingredients. But it is certainly not drug trafficking.

However, because making meth is so dangerous, many officers jump the gun. Alternatively, there might be no product in the room when officers serve a warrant. In either situation, it’s almost impossible to prove drug trafficking charges in court. 


Heroin trafficking is perhaps the most common drug trafficking charge. Generally, when people get addicted to opioid painkillers and their doctors cut them off, they turn to heroin. Much like powder cocaine, as outlined below, heroin cases usually have scientific reliability issues. People are still talking about a December 2018 Martin County incident. A man spent about a month in jail on heroin trafficking charges. That “heroin” was actually Tide laundry detergent.

Prescription Pain Pills

The other areas on this list usually involve distribution networks. These networks could be a few people or a few dozen people. Oxycontin and other opioid trafficking offenses usually just involve one buyer and one seller. Frequently, there is only one pill as well. Because these crimes are almost always nonviolent and involve such a low amount, an attorney can often get the charges reduced to something like altering a prescription label.

Powder Cocaine

These arrests often have another kind of reliability problem. Prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the seized substance was, in fact, powder cocaine.

Officers normally run “field tests” on seized substances. These unscientific tests normally focus on the object’s physical characteristics. In other words, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. That might be true in many areas, but it’s not always true in the criminal law context.

Frequently, cocaine has been blended with another substance. Sometimes, the defendants themselves are unaware of this dilution. So, many Tampa criminal defense attorneys order independent laboratory tests. These tests often produce very different results from the ones police technicians claim they obtained.

Connect With an Experienced Attorney

Five substances account for almost all drug trafficking cases. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa drug trafficking lawyer, contact the OA Law Firm. We routinely handle matters in Hillsborough County and nearby jurisdictions.


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