Free Consultation Fill out the form below and we'll be in touch within 24 hours!

All fields are required.

Drug Trafficking / Smuggling / Importation

Houston Drug Trafficking Attorney

Drug trafficking, also known as importation or delivery, from Mexico to Texas has been an increasing problem for many years due to the ease of crossing the border into the southwest United States. Millions of dollars of the most popular drugs in the United States are produced and transported each year from Mexico to Texas, Arizona, and California.

Three of the four most abused drugs in the United States, marijuana, heroin, and methamphetamines, are not only smuggled from Mexico but are also manufactured there. Mexican drug cartels also bring cocaine, the other most popularly abused drug, to the United States from where it is produced in South America.

Drug trafficking organizations, or cartels, use a variety of methods to get drugs into the United States. They often use teenagers or other Texas residents who do not look like stereotypical drug smugglers, and bribe border agents to let drug trucks pass through. More recently, cartels have started moving smaller bundles of drugs that remain inconspicuous, built underground tunnels and catapulted drugs over the border.

Houston Drug Trafficking Attorney

If you've been arrested for drug trafficking, drug smuggling, importation, or possession with intent to sell or distribute, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. It's important to have someone who will protect your rights and aggressively defend you against the charges.

Attorney Matt Horak is experienced in representing those accused of drug trafficking in both state and federal court.s Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the facts of your case. Call us at (713) 225-8000 or toll free at (800) 225-8009, or submit or online contact form today.


Drug Trafficking Information Center


Back to top

Federal Drug Trafficking Rules and Offenses

Drug trafficking basically means selling or distributing illegal drugs, but criminal charges are typically based on the quantity involved. Bringing drugs across the United States border from Mexico to Texas to sell or distribute is a federal offense.

This means someone who brings drugs into the United States from another country can be charged and convicted of a federal offense, which has very severe penalties. It is also a federal offense to cross state borders with drugs, also known as interstate trafficking, with the intent to sell. Additionally, intrastate trafficking, or moving drugs within a state, can also be a federal offense. Federal offenses and punishments can be found in the federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. §§ 807 et seq.).

The Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs into different schedules, ranging from Schedule I (most serious) to Schedule V (least serious).

  • Schedule I – Drugs or other substances that are extremely likely to be abused and have no other known or accepted medical uses
  • Schedule II – Drugs or other substances that are highly likely to be abused, and have known or accepted medical uses with strict restrictions because abuse may lead to severe dependence
  • Schedule III – Drugs or other substances with a slight potential for abuse and have known or accepted medical uses with a lower likelihood of dependence
  • Schedule IV – Drugs or other substances with a lower potential for abuse and have a known or accepted medical use with limited dependence
  • Schedule V – Drugs or other substances with the least amount of abuse and have a known or accepted medical use with very slight, if any, dependence

Examples of drugs in each schedule:

Drug Schedule

Drug Examples

Schedule I

Opiates, Opium Derivatives, Fentanyl Analogue, Marijuana, Heroin and LSD

Schedule II

Cocaine, Cocaine Derivatives, Opiates, Opium Derivatives, Injectable Methamphetamine and Derivatives, Fentanyl, and PCP

Schedule III

Amphetemines, Methamphetamines, Barbituric acid, and/or Anabolic steroids

Schedule IV

Barbital, Chloral hydrate, Flunitrazepam and/or Phenobarbital

Schedule V

Not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters; or

per 100 grams, not more than 100 milligrams of dihydrocodeine ;
per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams, not more than 100 milligrams of ethylmorphine;
per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams, not more than 2.5 milligrams of diphenoxylate and not less than 25 micrograms of atropine sulfate per dosage unit; and/or
not more than 100 milligrams of opium per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams


Back to top

Federal Penalties for Drug Trafficking

Drug Schedule

Drug Examples

Quantity

Penalties

Quantity

Penalties

Schedule I

Fentanyl Analogue

10-99 grams mixture

First Offense:
Not less than 5 years, and not more than 40 years; if death or serious injury is involved, not less than 20 years to life in prison. Fine no more than $2,000,000 if an individual and no more than $5,000,000 if not an individual

Second Offense:
Not less than 10 years and not more than life; If death or serious injury is involved, life in prison. Fine no more than $4,000,000 if an individual, and no more than $10,000,000 if not an individual.

100 grams or more mixture

First Offense:
Not less than 10 years, and not more than life; if death or serious injury is involved, not less than 20 years or more than life in prison. Fine of not more than $4,000,000 if an individual, and not more than $10,000,000 if not an individual.

Second Offense:
Not less than 20 years, and not more than life; if death or serious injury is involved, life in prison. Fine of not more than $8,000,000 if an individual, and not more than $20,000,000 if not an individual.

More than Two Offenses:
Life in prison

Schedule I

Heroin

100-999 grams mixture

1 kilogram or more mixture

Schedule I

LSD

1-9 grams mixture

10 grams or more mixture

Schedule II

Cocaine

500-4999 grams mixture

5 kilograms or more mixture

Schedule II

Cocaine Base

5-49 grams mixture

50 grams or more mixture

Schedule II

Fentanyl

40-399 grams mixture

400 grams or more mixture

Schedule II

Methamphetamine

5-49 grams pure or 50-499 grams mixture

50 grams or more pure or 500 grams or more mixture

Schedule II

PCP

10-99 grams pure or 100-999 grams mixture

10-99 grams pure or 100-999 grams mixture

Other Schedule I & II Drugs

Any drug product containing Gamma Hydroxybutyric Acid

Any amount

First Offense:
Not more than 20 years; if death or serious injury is involved, not less than 20 years or more than life in prison. Fine of not more than $1,000,000 if an individual, and not more than $5,000,000 if not an individual.

Second Offense:
Not more than 20 years; if death or serious injury is involved, not less than 20 years or more than life in prison. Fine of not more than $1,000,000 if an individual, and not more than $5,000,000 if not an individual.

Schedule IV

Flunitrazepam

1 gram or more

Schedule III
Drugs

Any amount

First Offense:
Not more than 5 years; fine of not more than $250,000 if an individual, and not more than $1,000,000 if not an individual.

Second Offense:
Not more than 10 years; fine of not more than $500,000 if an individual, and not more than $2,000,000 if not an individual.

Schedule IV

Flunitrazepam

30-999 milligrams

First Offense:
Not more than 5 years; fine of not more than $250,000 if an individual, and not more than $1,000,000 if not an individual.

Second Offense:
Not more than 10 years; fine of not more than $500,000 if an individual, and not more than $2,000,000 if not an individual.

Less than 30 milligrams

First Offense:
Not more than 3 years; fine of not more than $250,000 if an individual, and not more than $1,000,000 if not an individual.

Second Offense:
Not more than 6 years; fine of not more than $500,000 if an individual, and not more than $2,000,000 if not an individual.

Other Schedule IV Drugs

Any amount

First Offense:
Not more than 3 years; fine of not more than $250,000 if an individual, and not more than $1,000,000 if not an individual.

Second Offense:
Not more than 6 years; fine of not more than $500,000 if an individual, and not more than $2,000,000 if not an individual.

All Schedule V Drugs

Any amount

First Offense:
Not more than 1 year; fine of not more than $100,000 if an individual, and not more than $250,000 if not an individual.

Second Offense:
Not more than 2 years; fine of not more than $200,000 if an individual, and not more than $500,000 if not an individual.


Back to top

Texas Drug Trafficking Rules and Offenses

Texas also has a Controlled Substances Act, which prohibits possessing, manufacturing, or distributing prohibited substances with the intent to deliver to another person. If you are caught with a controlled substance in Texas in your possession, as defined in the Texas Controlled Substances Act, you can be convicted under Texas state laws.

Additionally, if you are arrested for manufacturing and/or delivering prohibited substances in Texas, you can be punished for violating Texas laws. Therefore, you can be charged with both state and federal offenses for trafficking drugs. The Texas Controlled Substances Act is defined in the Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 481.

Under the Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.101, drugs fall into four different penalty groups for the purpose of establishing criminal punishment. The penalty groups are as follows:

Penalty Group

Drug Examples

Penalties

Penalty Group 1

Opiates, Ketobemidone, Methadol, Heroin, Opium derivatives, Cocaine and Cocaine Derivatives, GHB, Fentanyl, Rohypnol, Ketamine and Methamphetamine

Less than 1 gram – state jail felony
More than 1 gram, but less than 4 grams – second degree felony
More than 4 grams, but less than 200 grams – first-degree felony
More than 200 grams, but less than 400 grams – 10 years to life in prison and a fine less than $100,00
More than 400 grams – 15 years to life in prison and a fine less than $250,000

Penalty Group 1-A

LSD

Less than 20 units – state jail felony
More than 20 units, but less than 80 units – second-degree felony
More than 80 units, but less than 4,000 units – first-degree felony

More than 4000 units – 15 years to life in prison and a fine less than $250,000

Penalty Group 2

Hallucinogens, including DET, DOET, PMA, Mescaline, Tetrahydrocannabinols, other than marihuana, and anything containing any quantity of substances intended to have a depressant effect on the central nervous system

Less than 1 gram – state jail felony
More than 1 gram, but less than 4 grams – second degree felony
More than 4 grams, but less than 400 grams – first-degree felony
More than 400 grams – 10 years to life in prison and a fine less than $100,00

Penalty Group 3

Anything containing any quantity intended to be used recreationally to have a stimulant effect on the central nervous system, including Methylphenidate, Phenmetrazine, barbituric acid, amobarbital, secobarbital, pentobarbital, Peyote, less than 1.8 grams of codeine, less than 300 milligrams of hydrocodone, and anabolic steroids

Less than 28 grams – state jail felony
More than 28 gram, but less than 200 grams – second-degree felony
More than 200 grams, but less than 400 grams – first-degree felony
More than 400 grams – 10 years to life in prison and a fine less than $100,00

Penalty Group 4

Narcotic drugs containing at least one nonnarcotic active medical ingredient

Less than 28 grams – state jail felony
More than 28 gram, but less than 200 grams – second-degree felony
More than 200 grams, but less than 400 grams – first-degree felony
More than 400 grams – 10 years to life in prison and a fine less than $100,00

The following code sections of the Texas Controlled Substances Act describe offenses and possible charges:

  • TX Health & S § 481.112 - Manufacture or Delivery of Substance in Penalty Group 1
  • TX Health & S § 481.1121 - Manufacture or Delivery of Substance in Penalty Group 1-A
  • TX Health & S § 481.1122 - Manufacture of Substance in Penalty Group 1: Presence of Child
  • TX Health & S § 481.113 - Manufacture or Delivery of Substance in Penalty Group 2
  • TX Health & S § 481.114 - Manufacture or Delivery of Substance in Penalty Group 3 or 4
  • TX Health & S § 481.119 - Manufacture, Delivery or Possession of Miscellaneous Substances
  • TX Health & S § 481.120 - Delivery of Marijuana
  • TX Health & S § 481.122 - Delivery of Controlled Substance or Marijuana to Child
  • TX Health & S § 481.124 - Possession of transport of Certain Chemicals with Intent to manufacture Controlled Substance
  • TX Health & S § 481.1245 - Possession or Transport of Anhydrous Ammonia; Use of or Tampering with Equipment
  • TX Health & S § 481.125 - Possession or Delivery of Drug Paraphernalia
  • TX Health & S § 481.137 - Transfer of Precursor Substance for Unlawful Manufacture
  • TX Health & S § 481.141 - Manufacture or Delivery of Controlled Substance Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury

Back to top

Penalties for Trafficking Drugs Into Texas

The Texas Penal Code defines the sentencing punishments for drug trafficking offenses found under the Texas Substances Act.

  • Sec.12.21 – Class A Misdemeanor: A fine of less than $4,000 and/or jail time of less than or equal to one year
  • Sec. 12.22 – Class B Misdemeanor: A fine of less than $2,000 and/or jail time of less than or equal to 180 days
  • Sec. 12.32 – First Degree Felony: 5 years to life in prison and a fine of less than or equal to $10,000
  • Sec. 12.33 – Second Degree Felony: 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of less than or equal to $10,000
  • Sec. 12.34 – Third Degree Felony: 2 to 10 years in prison, and a fine of $10,000 or less
  • Sec. 12.35 – State Jail Felony: 180 days to 2 years in jail, and a fine of less than or equal to $10,000

Back to top

Common Drug Trafficking Routes from Mexico to Texas

The following lists the primary land trafficking routes along the Texas/Mexico border where drugs are frequently smuggled in from Mexico to Texas:

  • Ciudad Juarez to El Paso,
  • Ojinaga to Presidio,
  • Ciudad Acuna to Del Rio,
  • Piedras Negras to Eagle Pass,
  • Nuevo Laredo to Laredo,
  • Reynosa to McAllen, and
  • Matamoros to Brownsville.

Back to top

Defenses to Drug Trafficking

Defenses in Texas for arrests associated with controlled substances include:

  • The substances were not in your possession or belonged to someone else;
  • The police did not have legal cause to stop your vehicle, or search your person or vehicle;
  • Entrapment due to the involvement of an undercover agent or confidential informant;
  • The substances were not intended for human consumption;
  • The substance is one that has been approved for a new drug application under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act;
  • The substance is exempt for investigational purposes under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Back to top

Horak Law | Texas Drug Trafficking Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with trafficking drugs into Harris County, Brewster County, Cameron County, Culberson County, El Paso County, Hidalgo County, Hudspeth County, Jeff Davis County, Kinney County, Maverick County, Presidio County, Starr County, Terrell County, Val Verde county, Webb County or Zapata County, contact Texas drug crimes attorney Matt Horak to discuss the particular facts of your case, and your possible defenses. There are many options to reduce or eliminate your charges, and finding an aggressive attorney is your best option to avoid severe punishment.

Matt Horak is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston, and will aggressively fight for your rights. Contact Matt Horak at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 for a free consultation about your alleged drug trafficking charge.


Back to top

Our Office in The Woodlands
1790 Hughes Landing Blvd #400 The Woodlands, TX 77380 (281) 907-4990
Our Office in Houston
5300 Memorial Dr #750 A Houston, TX 77007 (713) 225-8000
Free Consultation Fill out the form below and we'll be in touch within 24 hours!

All fields are required.

Matt Horak Matt Horak is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2014