Geography makes Texas a drug trafficking hotspot. Other southwestern states, such as California and Arizona, face similar challenges in minimizing the number of illegal substances that pour across the US border each year.
Millions of dollars’ worth of dangerous, illegal substances across state borders annually. Because it is relatively easy to transport these items across the Texas-Mexico line, drug trafficking is a serious problem in the Lone Star State. As a result, Texas imposes strict penalties on drug trafficking offenders.
Because these substances devastate lives and contribute to violence, the government continues to enforce harsh penalties on those who engage in trafficking. Individuals who deliver or import drugs across the Texas border face serious consequences under both state and federal law.
What Is Considered Drug Trafficking?
“Drug trafficking” is more a term of art than a specific crime. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines drug trafficking as the “global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws.”
But within the United States and the State of Texas, drug trafficking is a catch-all term that refers to the illegal distribution–or possession with “intent” to distribute–anything deemed a “controlled substance.”
But what separates simple possession from a more serious trafficking offense? Oftentimes, the circumstances surrounding a suspect’s arrest will lead prosecutors to charge one way or the other. Here are just some of the factors involved:
- Amount of Drugs Involved – If the police find more drugs on you than a reasonable purpose would take for their personal consumption, you are probably going to be charged with a trafficking offense. In other words, if you have a couple of marijuana joints in your pocket, a district attorney is unlikely to argue you were intending to distribute those drugs to others. But if the police find you carrying a pound of marijuana, that is a different story.
- Person-to-Person Exchange – Obviously, if a person is actually observed by police giving a controlled substance to someone else–including perhaps an undercover officer–the distributor is likely to be charged with a drug trafficking crime. Where and how you make such a transfer is irrelevant. You could be simply handing drugs to someone in your own house; it is still considered illegal distribution.
- Transporting Drugs – If police stop your vehicle, even for a routine traffic stop, and subsequently discover illegal drugs in your car, that can lead to a trafficking charge. Of course, this assumes the police conducted their search lawfully; that is, they either obtained a proper search warrant, or the drugs were in “plain view” during the initial stop.