Drug Trafficking – Arizona’s Laws
Drug trafficking is a major issue in Arizona, with the state considered a “source state” for drugs smuggled in from Mexico. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO) has found that narcotics in particular are being trafficked into the state by cartels. These cartels have chosen Arizona as a prime gateway for distributing their drugs throughout the country.
The MCSO is one Arizona organization that works with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, which was created by Congress in 1988 to provide assistance with drug-trafficking crimes to local jurisdictions. To qualify as a HIDTA, a local area must be a significant location for drug trafficking or related crimes, demonstrate committed aggression to combating the issue, have had their area negatively impacted by drug crimes, and require federal assistance to continue to respond sufficiently to the problem.
As a result of HIDTA partnership, approximately $1 billion worth of drugs were seized in Maricopa county alone between 2003 and 2019 alone.
Arizona statute lays out the laws surrounding drug trafficking in the state, breaking this crime down into categories specific for dangerous drugs, prescription drugs, narcotic drugs, and marijuana. Convictions can result in such punishments as incarceration, fines, community restitution, and drug education classes.
Drug Trafficking Penalties by Classification
Dangerous drugs include such drugs as methamphetamines, amphetamines, acid, anabolic steroids, and PCP. Trafficking dangerous drugs is class 2 felony, which can result in incarceration of up to 12.5 years for a first-time offender, however these lengths increase if methamphetamine was involved.
The trafficking of prescription drugs can result in a variety of charges. Most offenses are class 6 felonies, which can result in incarceration of up to 2 years for a first-time offender. Using or possessing prescription drugs not obtained through a valid prescription is a class 1 misdemeanor, while selling or distributing misbranded drugs is a class 4 felony.
Narcotic drugs include particularly deadly drugs such as fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, and oxycodone. Trafficking narcotics is the most severe of charges – a class 2 felony offense. First-time offenders can be incarcerated for up to 12.5 years.
Despite marijuana being legal in Arizona in some capacities, it is illegal for unlicensed individuals to traffic marijuana. Trafficking marijuana with a weight of less than two pounds is a class 3 felony, while trafficking more than that is a class 2 felony. A first-time offender could find themselves incarcerated for up to 8.75 years for a class 3 felony offense or up to 12.5 years for a class 2 felony offense.
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