Drug Trafficking Laws in Florida: An In-Depth Look

Manoj Prasad
Photo Credit: Canva

In the US, did you know that Florida is a big place where drugs are sold? Sure, why not? The state is in a great spot and has a lot of ports, which makes it a big hub for bringing illegal drugs into the country.

How big is the issue? Here are some shocking facts:

  • The U.S. Sentencing Commission says that there were 17,520 drug dealing cases in Florida in FY 2021.
  • Some of the drugs that are most often brought through Florida are cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and weed.
  • Miami is considered the nation’s number one entry point for smuggling drugs from South America.

This big problem of drug crime has actually been around for a long time in Florida. Let me tell you that Florida has very strict rules against drug trafficking. They are all about going after anyone who is doing that wrong thing.

What do Florida’s drug trafficking rules really cover? That’s what this article is all about. We will talk about what drug trafficking is and how long you could get in jail if you commit this crime, and a lot more. Everyone in Florida needs to know this.

What constitutes drug trafficking in Florida?

The first thing you should look at what Florida law says drug trade really means. It basically means taking illegal drugs into the state in secret, selling them, making them, or giving them to other people. It’s not enough to just keep them for yourself.

What makes the difference in Florida between being caught with drugs and being charged with drug trafficking? You will be considered a smuggler if you go over a certain limit and the results can be very bad.

Let me tell you that people who have more than 25 pounds of cannabis, more than 4 grams of heroin, or more than 28 grams of cocaine will be charged with dealing instead of just having the drugs.

  • More than 14 grams of methamphetamine
  • Over 10 grams of MDMA/ecstasy
  • 4 or more doses of LSD

What kind of drugs you have is just as important as how much of it you have. There will be different repercussions if you are caught with marijuana than if you are caught with cocaine or methamphetamine.

You could also be charged with extra crimes if you have scales, bags, or other things used for drug paraphernalia. If you sell drugs for a lot of money then that could be a sign that you’re trading them.

Some cases like State v. Johnson, show that you can still be charged with dealing if you have more than the minimum amount, even if there is no proof that you sold drugs. It’s pretty easy to charge people with trafficking with big money because of the law.

In Florida, the type and amount of drugs are what make the difference between simple drug possession and major drug trafficking charges. Florida law says that if you go over the amount allowed for trafficking, you will face some pretty serious punishments.

The harsh punishments in Florida for drug trafficking

FL doesn’t mess around when it comes to fighting drug crime. The punishments for these acts are not funny. Let’s look at what might happen to you if you are caught bringing drugs into the state illegally.

First, judges have to give required minimum prison terms based on the type and amount of drugs that were used. To give you some examples:

  • Trafficking 28-200 grams of cocaine = 3 year minimum sentence
  • 200-400 grams of cocaine = 7 year minimum
  • 25-300 pounds of cannabis = 3 year minimum
  • 4-14 grams of opioids like heroin = 3 year minimum

And these are just the minimum sentences. If you are found with a lot of drugs then you could get stronger punishments. If you are caught with more than 400 grams of cocaine, you might spend the rest of your life in jail.

Furthermore, you will likely have to pay large fines, be put on probation after you get out of jail and lose your driver’s license. What the court can also take away if you were part in a drug deal is your cash, car, or house.

If you are found smuggling in certain places, things get even more complicated. Under Florida law, the fines are even worse if it happens near schools, parks, or other public places.

Also, be careful if you have even a small criminal record. This state has strict rules for people who can’t stay away from drugs. Remember that if you have been caught smuggling before then you could be sent to jail for life.

Take a look at some well-known cases to see how strict Florida is:

  • Three guys from Miami were given 17–35 year sentences last year for selling more than 150 kg of meth.
  • A woman in Tampa got 10 years in jail in 2021 for selling heroin and fentanyl.

Federal Drug Trafficking Laws in Florida

We have covered Florida’s tough state laws for drug trafficking. But it’s important to know that federal laws also apply within the state. Federal prosecutors can get involved and bring charges in certain drug trafficking cases in Florida.

This usually happens when the drug operation is particularly large and crosses state lines. If an interstate trafficking ring is bringing drugs from outside Florida then the feds may step in. They also have jurisdiction over drug trafficking on Native American lands like reservations.

The federal sentencing guidelines for drug trafficking can be just as harsh, if not harsher in some instances, compared to Florida’s state laws.

Like Florida, federal law has mandatory minimum sentences based on the type and amount of drugs. Trafficking even smaller amounts can lead to decades behind bars.

One key difference is that federal cases more frequently lead to asset seizure and forfeiture. The authorities can take cash, vehicles, homes, businesses – any property that was used to facilitate the drug crimes or gained from trafficking proceeds.

So in Florida, you could potentially face double punishments if charged under both the state’s drug trafficking laws and federal statutes.

The threat of doing major time in federal prison is another deterrent against this illegal trade within the state’s borders.

Some recent high-profile cases like the conviction of a major Mexican cartel leader showed how federal prosecutors aggressively go after the biggest drug trafficking operations impacting Florida.

Their tough stance mirrors Florida’s no-nonsense approach at the state level when it comes to punishing these offenses.

How you can get out of trafficking charges

Having a good legal defense is very important if you are charged with drug trafficking in Florida. The punishments that could be given for these crimes are just too harsh to be taken lightly. It could make all the difference if you have an experienced lawyer who fights hard for you.

Your lawyer may be able to fight the trafficking charges against you in a number of different ways.

One typical strategy is to say that the search, stop, and seizure of the drugs were illegal or violated your rights in some other way. It can be very bad for the prosecution’s case if important information is thrown out.

Florida also has a special law called “drug muggles” that can sometimes help people who are being charged with selling drugs.

If you can show that you were hired as a “mule” to move drugs without knowing it, the penalties may be lessened.

First-time, nonviolent offenders may be able to get a lighter sentence if they successfully finish diversion programs like drug court and court-ordered rehab.

Your lawyer can fight to get you into these programs instead of getting the harshest punishments possible.

No matter what, if you’re charged with drug dealing in Florida, you need to hire a lawyer who focuses on this area of law and has dealt with cases like yours before.

To get the best possible result, they will know all the possible defense strategies and diversion programs.

A drug trafficking conviction can ruin your whole life and you could spend decades in jail. If you want to keep the charges or fines as low as possible, you should hire a good lawyer. Don’t try to handle these cases by yourself since Florida’s strict laws put a lot at stake.

Some examples of recent high-profile drug crimes in Florida

1. US Coast Guard Seizure

In January 2024, the US Coast Guard found and seized over a ton of cocaine worth $32 million near Florida. This led to the arrest of six people who were thought to be drug dealers.

Two different seizures of 2,450 pounds of cocaine were made by the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Margaret Norvell in the Caribbean Sea.

The suspects will be put on trial by the Department of Justice, which brings attention to a major drug dealing operation. [Source]

2. Kodak Black’s Case

A artist from South Florida named Kodak Black was charged with drug trafficking in 2022. He was accused of selling oxycodone and having a controlled substance without a prescription.

In February 2024, he was found to have a legal prescription for oxycodone, which led to the dismissal of a drug possession charge against him.

He is still being charged with fiddling with evidence because of the arrest, though. The court case of Kodak Black shows how complicated and nuanced drug-related cases can be in Florida. [Source]

Frequently Ask Questions

  1. What is considered drug trafficking versus simple possession in Florida?Β 

    The major difference is the amount of drugs that are used. If you have more than a certain amount or weight of different drugs, you are charged with dealing instead of just possessing them.

  2. What is the minimum mandatory sentence for cocaine trafficking in Florida?

    For selling between 28 and 200 grams of cocaine, you must serve at least 3 years in prison. For 200–400 grams, at least 7 years. If you have more than 400 grams, you could get a life term.

  3. Can I get charged with trafficking for marijuana in Florida?

    Yes, you can be charged with trafficking if you have more than 25 pounds of weed or more than 300 cannabis plants. The minimum term is three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

  4. What are some common defense strategies against trafficking charges?

    For example, you could say that the search or seizure of evidence was illegal. There weren’t enough drugs that confidential informants were used. You didn’t mean to trade and other things.

  5. How important is it to hire an experienced drug trafficking lawyer?

    Really important. A lawyer who knows these complicated Florida laws inside and out can help you come up with all of your possible defenses, look into diversionary programs, and make sure that all of your rights are fully protected.

  6. Can I get drug trafficking charges for prescription drugs in Florida?

    Yes, you can be charged with trafficking if you illegally sell or give away large amounts of controlled prescription drugs like opioid medicines. The weights are different for each drug.

  7. What is the difference between drug trafficking and drug racketeering charges?

    Florida’s RICO rules say that people who run ongoing criminal networks and plots involving drug trafficking, money laundering, and other organized crimes can be charged with racketeering. The punishments are very harsh.

  8. Can I be charged with drug dealing for trying to buy drugs?

    Under Florida’s “attempt” rules, the answer could be yes. For some crimes, trying, asking, or planning to trade drugs can lead to the same charges as actually doing the crime.

  9. What happens if I’m arrested for drug trafficking while on parole?

    It is against the rules of your parole or probation. So you would be charged with trafficking again and also have your parole taken away and be punished for breaking the rules.

Share This Article