Two Maryland counties called “high-intensity drug trafficking areas”

On November 14, 2013 the Office of Drug Control Policy announced that it was adding 12 counties to its list of “high-intensity drug trafficking areas.” Two of the counties included on the list were in Maryland. Maryland residents should be aware of what it means for a county to be named a high-intensity drug trafficking area and the penalties for being convicted of federal drug trafficking charges.

High-intensity drug trafficking areas

The Office of Drug Control Policy is a federal agency created by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 to coordinate and oversee the federal government’s activities and funding for reducing use, manufacture and trafficking of illegal drugs. One of the means that the ODCP carries out its mission is by targeting certain areas of the country that it feels have the most drug trafficking activity through its High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program. The program is designed to coordinate the actions of federal, state and local law enforcement through shared intelligence initiatives, as well as multi-agency investigations and prosecutions.

With the 12 new counties announced in November 2013, including Frederick and Cecil counties in Maryland, the ODCP has 28 named high-intensity drug trafficking areas, which encompass about 60 percent of the country’s population. The 12 counties newly named as high-intensity drug trafficking areas will share $660,000 in funds to develop strategies to target those whom they suspect of trafficking drugs.

Federal drug trafficking penalties

Those who are convicted of federal drug trafficking charges face severe penalties. If a person is convicted of trafficking small amounts of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, LSD or methamphetamines can result in a prison sentence of at least five years and as long as 40 years for a first offense. A second offense for such convictions results in a prison sentence of at least 10 years, going as high as life in prison.

If a death or serious bodily injury results as a result of the drug trafficking activity, a person may be sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison and may serve up to life in prison. If death or serious bodily injury occurs in conjunction with a person’s second offense for drug trafficking, the penalties increase to a life imprisonment sentence.

Drug trafficking conviction penalties increase with the amount of illegal substances involved.

Consult an attorney

Federal authorities have made targeting those who sell drugs a priority. In their effort to eradicate illegal drugs from the country’s streets, police and prosecutors often charge people involved with drug activity to the fullest extent possible, and they are often unwilling to consider any mitigating circumstances in the matter. It is critical for those facing drug charges to have the assistance of a skilled drug charges defense attorney ensuring that the state followed protocols and did not violate citizens’ rights. If you are facing drug charges, speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of successfully defending people from drug charges.