What is Drug Trafficking?
In Ohio, drug trafficking refers to:
● When a person knowingly sells or offers to sell a drug
● When a person ships, transports, delivers or distributes a drug when that person knows or has reason to know that the drug is intended to be sold
Drug Trafficking defaults as a fifth-degree felony, while aggravated drug trafficking has more serious consequences, defaulting as a fourth-degree felony. The difference between drug trafficking and aggravated drug trafficking depends on the types of drugs. Aggravated drug trafficking involves drugs that are classified as Schedule I (LSD, heroin, ecstasy, etc.) or Schedule 2 (cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.).
How Police Identify Drug Trafficking Suspects
Police may use multiple tactics when identifying and investigating drug trafficking suspects.
● Observing a drug deal. If an officer sees you engage in a hand-to-hand street deal, they may arrest you as a suspect.
● Informants, undercover officers, and anonymous tips. Police can get leads from “word on the street” and may use informants or undercovers for drug sales. Informants are often lower-tier drug dealers or users who agree to supply information to the police in exchange for lowered sentences or reduced charges.
● Direct, controlled, and observed drug sales. Police may use informants or undercovers to catch suspects. In a direct sale, the target unknowingly sells to an undercover cop or an informant. In a controlled sale, the police organize a deal between the target and informant by giving the informant “buy money” and verifying that they got the drugs. In an observed sale, the police organize a controlled sale and personally observe the sale. An observed sale could also occur if a police officer observes two random people engaging in a drug transaction.
● Online activity and social media. Police can observe your public social media profiles and may obtain a warrant to monitor your internet activity. Any suspicious photos, posts, comments, messages, etc. could be used to help identify suspects in a drug trafficking case.
● Surveillance. Police can conduct surveillance on suspects to monitor activity online and in person. They may observe your home, workplace, or usual hangout spots. With a warrant, they can wiretap your phone or monitor your internet activity to collect calls and messages.
● Traffic stops. Initially, police may pull you over for a traffic violation. If they see or smell drugs/drug paraphernalia or anything suspicious, they could ask to search your vehicle. Remember, although recreational marijuana is now legal in Ohio, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of drugs. Rental cars, out-of-town plates, and traffic violations like speeding are often red flags when police are looking for drug transportation vehicles.
If you are suspected of drug trafficking, it’s important to know your rights. You have the right to remain silent and are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant or probable cause. You also have the right to an attorney, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you deal with drug charges.
Are you or someone you know facing drug charges in Cincinnati, OH?
If you are facing drug charges, you need to speak with an experienced drug crimes attorney as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams is recognized by Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, National Trial Lawyers Top 100, and is one of U.S. News' Best Law Firms. Please contact us online or call our Cincinnati office directly at 513-929-9333 to schedule your free consultation.