Drug Importation or Exportation
The United States has strict laws in place that govern how goods, including illicit drugs, prescription medications and controlled substances, can be imported and exported, and anyone suspected of bringing unauthorized drugs into the country or exporting them from the U.S. into another country can end up facing serious federal drug charges, even doctors, pharmacists and others who work in the medical or pharmaceutical drug industry. If you have been arrested for a drug importation or drug exportation crime, every minute matters.
Contact our knowledgeable drug charge defense lawyers at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers as soon as possible to discuss the best defense approach based on your specific situation. Our federal lawyers have many years of experience defending the rights of clients charged with drug-related crimes like drug importation/exportation, drug trafficking and drug manufacturing, and we can help you expertly defend yourself against these charges. Our firm is based in San Diego and we serve clients throughout California and the United States facing federal drug charges like drug importation/exportation.
Drug Importation/Exportation Charges
The Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (Title 21 of the U.S. Code Subchapter II – Import and Export § 951-971) includes provisions for the importation and exportation of controlled substances, or substances whose manufacture, possession and use is regulated by the federal government.
This includes certain illicit drugs, prescription medications and potentially dangerous chemicals that have a potential for abuse and/or pose a risk of dependence, such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, hydrocodone and oxycodone. Individuals who violate the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act by importing or exporting controlled substances without authorization, either for personal use or for commercial sale, can face serious criminal charges at the federal level.
Drug Importation – 21 U.S. Code § 952
The unlawful importation of controlled substances into the United States from another country is a violation of 21 U.S. Code § 952. Federal drug importation charges cover a wide variety of criminal offenses that range in severity from a person illegally importing a small amount of a prescription medication for their own personal use to a person involved in a criminal enterprise importing large quantities of narcotics or unapproved prescription drugs intended for commercial sale. If you are accused of the latter, you could also face charges for drug trafficking, drug distribution or drug smuggling.
Drug Exportation – 21 U.S. Code § 953
The unlawful exportation of controlled substances from the United States to another country is also a crime, a violation of 21 U.S. Code § 953. This law covers any illegal activity in which illicit drugs or unauthorized prescription drugs are transported across the boundaries of the U.S. into another country without permission.
Federal Drug Schedules
The Federal government has classified a number of illegal drugs, substances and certain chemicals used to make drugs into five separate categories, called schedules, based on their accepted medical use and abuse or dependency potential. The following are some examples of drugs in each of the five schedules. (It is important to note that these lists are not inclusive of all controlled substances):
• Schedule I – Heroin, marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, peyote
• Schedule II – Cocaine, methamphetamine, Vicodin, oxycodone, fentanyl, Adderall
• Schedule III – Testosterone, anabolic steroids, ketamine, Tylenol with codeine
• Schedule IV – Xanax, Ambien, Tramadol, Valium
• Schedule V – Lyrica, Lomotil, Robitussin AC
Penalties for Drug Importation/Exportation
The penalties handed down by the court in federal drug importation/exportation cases are dictated by the mandatory minimum sentences assigned to drug-related crimes under federal law and are based on the type and quantity of the drugs involved. For example, the mandatory minimum sentence for a crime involving the unlawful importation of 500 grams or more of cocaine, 100 grams or more of heroin, or 100 kilograms or more of marijuana is five years in prison (and up to 40 years).
For a drug importation crime involving the unlawful importation of five kilograms or more of cocaine, one kilogram or more of heroin, or 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, the mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years in prison (and up to life in prison). Pursuant to 21 U.S. Code § 960, any person who knowingly or intentionally:
1. Imports or exports a listed chemical for the purpose of manufacturing a controlled substance in violation of federal law,
2. Exports a listed chemical in violation of the laws of the country to which the chemical is exported, or
3. Imports or exports a listed chemical knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that the chemical will be used for the unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance,
faces a term of imprisonment not to exceed 20 years (for a violation of (1) or (3) involving a list I chemical) or not to exceed 10 years for any other violation involving a list I chemical, plus a fine.
Drug importation/exportation charges are often connected to other federal drug-related charges like drug trafficking, drug distribution, drug conspiracy, drug smuggling and money laundering, which carry their own potential prison sentences and fines.
Why Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney is Essential
Facing criminal charges for drug importation or exportation is not something that should be taken lightly. While other drug crimes, like drug trafficking and drug distribution, can be charged as either a state crime or federal crime depending on the circumstances of the criminal act, drug importation and drug exportation offenses are always charged at the federal level, since only the federal government has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals accused of transporting drugs across the boundaries of the United States, whether they are entering or exiting the country.
At Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers, we know that drug importation/exportation charges have the potential to cause serious problems for you and your loved ones and we are committed to protecting your rights and freedoms as thoroughly and efficiently as possible. The best way to defend yourself against federal drug charges like illegal drug importation or exportation is to retain the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest, indictment or formal charge.
We also represent clients during the federal investigation stage and may be able to prevent criminal charges from ever being filed. Contact our legal team today to find out how we can help.
Defenses Against Allegations of Drug Importation or Exportation
The federal government takes drug-related crimes like drug importation and drug exportation extremely seriously, and if you are facing charges under the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act, you will need the assistance of a knowledgeable drug crimes defense attorney who has experience representing clients in federal court.
The federal criminal justice system differs from the California state system in a number of ways – most importantly with regard to the severity of the penalties handed down by the court for a conviction – and you do not want to leave the outcome of your case in the hands of an inexperienced lawyer.
We would like to remind you that just because you have been accused of a federal drug crime does not mean you are guilty. In order to convict you of the crime of drug importation, for instance, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly brought the controlled substance into the United States from another country, and that you knew it was a controlled substance or illegal drug.
Our attorneys know which legal strategies are most effective in drug importation/exportation cases and we will use every resource at our disposal to craft a compelling defense and help you get a favorable outcome in your case. The following are some possible defense strategies our lawyers may be able to use in your federal drug importation/exportation case:
• The controlled substance did not cross the border of the United States
• You did not know you were in possession of the controlled substance
• The prosecution’s evidence was obtained during an illegal search of your person or property
• You were the victim of entrapment
• You were forced to commit the crime against your will or under duress
• The government failed to follow proper protocol in handling evidence related to the drug importation/exportation charge
• You were legally prescribed the controlled substance
Consult the Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers
The federal government strictly enforces drug importation and exportation laws relating to prescription drugs and controlled substances, including marijuana. While many states have legalized marijuana, it remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law and that means you can still face federal charges for importing marijuana into California, even though recreational marijuana became legal in 2018.
If you have been accused of unlawfully bringing drugs into the United States or exporting drugs from the U.S. into another country without authorization, you need a steadfast legal advocate on your side who can ensure that your side of the story is properly represented during negotiations or in the courtroom.
The federal government is a formidable opponent when it comes to fighting drug charges and our attorneys are ready to help you vigorously defend yourself in your drug importation/exportation case. Contact Feconderal Criminal Defense Lawyers today for a free initial drug crimes consultation.