WSVN-TV reported on October 17 that a man and a woman who lived along Laurel Oaks Drive in Davie were arrested on October 11 as part of a fentanyl drug bust. According to WSVN, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration said the arrest was “a big breakthrough in the war on fentanyl because this is the first time that they have been able to issue indictments for the Chinese nationals who manufactured the drugs.”
Officials said the two people arrested were a part of a larger international drug trafficking ring in which manufacturers were creating fentanyl and sending it to Canada, where it would then make its way through the United States. A government official told WSVN that a search of the alleged offenders’ residence resulted in the seizure of approximately $175,000 in U.S. currency, a Maserati and two firearms.
Fentanyl is an opioid pain medication and synthetic drug that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is up to 100 times more potent than morphine and many times that of heroin. This past June, Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 477, a measure that imposed mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of trafficking in fentanyl.
Under the bill, any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into Florida, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of, 4 grams or more of fentanyl commit the first-degree felony offense of trafficking in fentanyl. Offenses involving four or more but less than 14 grams are punishable by a minimum of three years in prison and a $50,000 fine, offenses involving 14 or more but less than 28 grams are punishable by a minimum of 15 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, and offenses involving 28 grams or more of fentanyl are punishable by a minimum of 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Broward County Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyer
Any criminal offense involving a controlled substance carries serious penalties, but the nature of the criminal charges can be dramatically different if an alleged offender faces federal charges. The case above involved federal agencies, many of which have far greater resources than their state counterparts.
It is important to understand that state and federal agencies are placing increased emphasis on synthetic drugs—controlled substances that mimic popular illegal drugs but are often created with man-made chemicals—in recent years because of the opioid crisis that enveloped much of the country. Both state and federal laws impose harsh penalties on alleged offenders accused of trafficking in synthetic drugs.
Drug trafficking charges are based on multiple factors, but primarily the amount of a controlled substance involved. Convictions for state drug trafficking charges in Florida can result in sentences of up to 30 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, but certain federal offenses are punishable by life in prison and fines that can be millions of dollars.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Evan Hoffman is a former Assistant State Attorney for the Broward County State Attorney’s Office who is admitted to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The Hoffman Firm represents people facing state or federal drug trafficking charges.