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A substantial amount of drugs seized every year are at the border. The number of ways drugs enter the United States is limitless. South Florida has been a drug importation hotspot for many years. It is very easy to see why South Florida is a drug smugglers paradise with its many harbors, ports, small airports and etc as well as its close proximity to Central and South America as well as the islands. Anybody who has ever seen movies like Scarface or Cocaine Cowboys knows that South Florida will always be known as a drug smuggling area.

21 U.S.C. § 952 Prohibits the importation of controlled substances
21 U.S.C. § 963 Prohibits attempts and conspiracies to import/export controlled substances

Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 952:

  • It is a crime under section 952(a) for a person to import into the United States any controlled substance in schedule I or II, or any narcotic drug in schedules III, IV, or V. 21 U.S.C. sect; 952(a)

  • It is a crime under section 952(b) for a person to import into the United States any nonnarcotic controlled substance found in schedules III, IV, or V. Importation of drugs is a strictly a federal offense because only the federal government has jurisdiction to prosecute someone bringing illegal drugs into the country from outside the border. Drug importation is regulated by 21 U.S.C. 952. To be convicted of importation the prosecution must prove that the substance that is entering the county is an illegal and banned drug and that it crossed the boundary of the United States to enter the country.


The minimum and maximum statutory penalties are driven by the type and the quantity of the drug involved, but may be increased if the offense involved death or serious bodily injury, or if the offender has a prior conviction for a felony drug offense.  Penalties for violating 21 USC 952 are controlled by 21 USC 960(b).

Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(A) and 960(b)(1), a statutory range of ten years
to life applies to offenses involving at least:

1 kilogram of Heroin
5 kilograms of Cocaine (powder)
280 grams of Cocaine base
1,000 kilograms of Marijuana or 1,000 plants
50 grams of actual Methamphetamine or 500 grams of mixture or substance

Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(B) and 960(b)(2), a statutory range of 5 to 40
years applies to offenses involving at least:
100 grams of Heroin
500 grams of Cocaine (powder)
28 grams of Cocaine base
100 kilograms of Marijuana or 100 plants
5 grams of actual Methamphetamine or 50 grams of mixture or substance

Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(C) and 960(b)(3), a statutory range of 0 to 20
years applies to offenses involving lesser quantities of drugs.
A statutory maximum of 5 years is provided for offenses involving less than 50
kilograms of marijuana.

For most drug-related sentences, quantity is the most important consideration. Drug
quantity determinations do not necessarily correspond to the amounts charged in the
offense of conviction. A defendant will be held responsible for drug quantities involved in
his or her “relevant conduct,” which may include a defendant’s own acts as well as the acts
of others.   The sentencing guidelines hold the defendant accountable for the
“reasonably foreseeable acts and omissions of others” in furtherance of “jointly undertaken
criminal activity,” which includes any “criminal plan, scheme, endeavor or enterprise
undertaken by defendant in concert with others.”

For more information on Federal Drug Importation charges call Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney David J. Sobel directly at 954-383-3000.

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