If you are under investigation for or have been charged with the federal crime of drug trafficking, do not hesitate to protect your legal rights. Hiring an experienced drug trafficking attorney can ensure your future and your rights are protected.

Drug crimes are some of the most aggressively prosecuted crimes in Orange County and across the country, and depending on the circumstances surrounding the criminal offense, drug crimes can be prosecuted in either state or federal court.

Drug trafficking, also known as drug distribution, is the crime of selling, transporting, or illegally importing unlawful controlled substances and other illegal drugs, like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

Drug trafficking also applies to the illegal sale or transportation of prescription drugs, which has become a serious problem in the United States in recent years and may also apply to marijuana-related offenses in certain cases.


Facing prosecution in federal court for a serious crime like drug trafficking can be stressful and confusing, which is why it is always a good idea to hire an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to represent you in court and at trial.

There are important differences between federal and California state law and these differences can get you in serious legal trouble if you aren’t aware of them.

For instance, even though recreational marijuana use is legal in Orange County, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, which means the federal government still considers it an illegal drug, and if you are accused of trafficking marijuana or any other illegal drug, you could be charged with a federal crime and subjected to severe legal penalties.

No one should be charged with or convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, especially a major drug crime like drug trafficking, and that is where we come in.

Our criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group have more than 60 years of combined criminal defense experience, we are familiar with the inner workings of the federal criminal justice system and we know how federal drug trafficking laws apply to your case.

That means we are uniquely able to help you navigate the federal criminal justice system and defend yourself against drug trafficking charges.

If you have been charged with federal drug trafficking, you have a difficult road ahead of you, but you can rest assured that our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.

Contact our law firm today for a free evaluation of your criminal case.


There are many different types of drug crimes that can result in federal charges being filed, but the most commonly charged drug-related offenses involve allegations of drug manufacturing or distributing and trafficking an illicit drug or controlled substance.

Under federal law, a “controlled substance” is any drug regulated by the federal law known as the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, and this can include everything from illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin to pharmaceutical drugs like Oxycontin or Vicodin, which carry a high risk of abuse and addiction.

Drug trafficking charges can be filed in state court, but the crime is typically prosecuted as a federal offense if the defendant is in possession of more than a specific amount of the drug or if the drugs in question are moved across state lines.

Drug trafficking and drug possession are related but separate crimes, the main difference between the two being the fact that drug trafficking typically requires proof that the defendant was in possession of drugs not only for personal use, but for commercial purposes.

However, you can be charged with drug trafficking under federal law even if you never actually sold the controlled substance, but were arrested with enough of the drug in your possession that it constitutes drug trafficking (more specifically – possession with the intent to distribute or dispense).

You can also be charged with drug trafficking if you have certain drug-related tools or materials in your possession at the time of your arrest, including a scale for weighing drugs or plastic baggies for measuring out and distributing drugs.

Federal Drug Trafficking 21 U.S.C. § 841

The federal law governing drug trafficking crimes is Section 841 of Title 21, United States Code, which makes it a crime to knowingly or intentionally:

  • Manufacture, distribute, dispense (or possess with the intent to distribute or dispense) a controlled substance; or
  • Create, distribute or dispense (or possess with the intent to distribute or dispense) a counterfeit substance intended to be passed off as a drug.

Under this law, a “counterfeit substance” is an imitation product specifically designed to be indistinguishable from a controlled substance, at least in appearance, and intended to be mistaken for that controlled substance. Counterfeit substances may consist of virtually harmless substances, like household spices, or other controlled drugs or synthetic drugs with similar properties.

The danger associated with counterfeit drugs is that not knowing exactly what substances are contained in imitation drugs may increase the risk of an overdose.

Under federal law, selling counterfeit illicit drugs is illegal, even if the substances used to make the imitation drug are not illegal themselves.


drug trafficking attorney

The penalties associated with a federal drug trafficking conviction can vary a great deal depending on the specific details of your case, including the type and quantity of the controlled substance you are accused of trafficking and your past criminal history.

Unfortunately, any unlawful distribution, manufacture or importation of controlled substances in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 carries severe penalties, even for a first-time offense.

Under federal law, a drug trafficking crime involving one kilogram or more of heroin is punishable by imprisonment in federal prison for 10 years to life and up to $10 million in fines, while a crime involving 100 grams or more of heroin can result in up to 40 years in federal prison and up to $5 million in fines.

Comparatively, a first-time conviction for trafficking between five and 50 grams of pure methamphetamine is a felony offense punishable by five to 40 years in federal prison and up to $2 million in fines.

Even selling, transporting, or illegally importing marijuana can result in federal drug trafficking charges, depending on the quantity of marijuana you are accused of trafficking.

For example, if you are caught trafficking less than 50 kilograms of marijuana (or up to 49 plants), you could face a felony offense punishable by up to five years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

A first-time conviction for trafficking between 50 and 100 kilograms of marijuana (or 50 to 99 plants) is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and up to $1 million in fines.

A second conviction for this offense is punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison and up to $2 million in fines.

There are other factors that can result in increased penalties for federal drug trafficking, including whether the alleged trafficking caused the death or serious bodily injury of another person.

For instance, if you are caught trafficking between 50 and 100 kilograms of marijuana and death or serious bodily injury occurs as a result of the crime, the sentence associated with a conviction is increased to 20 years to life in federal prison.

As another example, a second conviction for trafficking between five and 50 grams of pure methamphetamine is punishable by 10 years to life in federal prison, but if death or serious bodily injury occurs as a result of the crime, the resulting sentence is increased to life in prison.


Selling, transporting, or importing controlled substances or illicit drugs is illegal under both federal and California state law, and if you are accused of the crime of drug trafficking in Orange County, you could find yourself facing charges in state or federal court.

However, just because you have been charged with drug trafficking, does not automatically mean you are guilty of the crime, nor does it mean you will be convicted at trial.

As in all criminal cases, the federal prosecutor assigned to your case bears the burden of proving the crime, which means in order to get a conviction for drug trafficking, the prosecutor will have to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements of the crime:

  • You knowingly possessed an illegal controlled substance; and
  • You were involved in the sale, transport, or importation of the controlled substance, you conducted activity related to the offense in multiple states, or you intended to sell or deliver the drugs across state lines.

Best Defense Strategies in Federal Drug Trafficking Cases

Drug trafficking is a serious crime and facing federal drug trafficking charges may seem like the end of the world, especially if you were caught with large quantities of an illicit drug or caught transporting drugs across state lines.

It is true that a drug trafficking conviction can follow you for the rest of your life, even after you have served your prison sentence.

However, you must remember that, even when accused of a serious federal offense like drug trafficking, you still have important rights, and this includes the right to legal counsel.

Depending on the circumstances of your drug trafficking case, an experienced attorney can present one or more of the following defenses to challenge the prosecution’s case against you and introduce a different version of events:

  • You did not know you were in possession of the controlled substance
  • You reasonably believed that the substance was legal
  • You did not intend to traffic the substance
  • There isn’t enough evidence to constitute federal drug trafficking charges
  • You were falsely accused of drug trafficking
  • The evidence was obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure


There are some important differences between California state courts and federal courts, and most of these differences have to do with the punishments resulting from a criminal conviction.

Unlike judges in state courts, who have the authority to decide what sentence to impose on the defendant, federal judges are required to comply with a series of rules that establish certain mandatory minimum prison sentences for federal offenses like drug trafficking.

In fact, the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) reported in 2017 that “drug trafficking offenses have accounted for approximately two-thirds of the offenses carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, significantly higher than the next largest class of offenses.”

Furthermore, unlike state courts, parole is not an option in federal court, which means prisoners must serve 85-90% of their prison sentence before even being eligible for release.

That means federal drug trafficking convictions almost always result in lengthy prison sentences for defendants. For these reasons and many more, it is imperative that you enlist the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney when facing federal drug trafficking charges.

With the skill and expertise of an attorney who knows the federal criminal justice system inside and out, you can significantly improve your chances of beating federal drug trafficking charges.


If you are convicted of federal drug trafficking, you could face a lengthy prison sentence and significant fines, not to mention the personal and professional consequences you would likely suffer as a result of such a conviction.

Drug crimes carry a significant social stigma and receiving a “guilty” verdict in your drug trafficking case can have an impact on nearly every aspect of your life, possibly affecting your personal relationships, professional licensing, civil rights, and even your immigration status.

You can be certain that the federal prosecutor assigned to your case will use every resource at his or her disposal to get a conviction and put you behind bars, and there is no reason to make the prosecutor’s job any easier by not doing everything in your power to fight the charges.

Contact our drug trafficking defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group as soon as possible to find out how best to defend yourself against these criminal charges.

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