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Drug Trafficking

Drug Trafficking in Arizona: Most Common Illegal Drugs

Drug trafficking laws in Arizona are particularly harsh and strictly enforced due to the number of illegal drugs that make it into the state from Mexico. Individuals who break Arizona's strict drug trafficking laws face severe criminal penalties if caught and convicted.

If you have been charged with drug trafficking or any other drug crime, a drug crimes attorney can provide you with a robust defense against prosecution and fight for an optimal outcome in your case.

What Is Considered Drug Trafficking?

Arizona's drug trafficking laws refer to the various actions involved in making a drug for sale when it is prohibited, including:

  • Drug manufacturing or cultivation
  • Drug transportation
  • The importation of drugs into the country
  • Possession with intent to sell
  • Possession of drug manufacturing equipment
  • The sale of drugs

Individuals facing charges based on any of these actions need a drug trafficking lawyer to fight for them against the state.

What Is the Difference Between Drug Possession and Drug Trafficking?

The difference between drug possession and drug trafficking in Arizona is one of intent — drug possession does not imply any intention to sell or distribute, whereas drug trafficking does.

Although it can at times be easy to prove in many cases, intent to traffic can sometimes be difficult to demonstrate if a person is not caught in the act of selling or distributing illegal drugs. Therefore, other factors may be used to imply that trafficking was indeed the intent, such as the presence of:

  • Scales and bags
  • Unusual amounts of cash
  • Ledgers and records of sales
  • Unusually large amounts of drugs
  • Witness testimony

If the state brings a drug trafficking charge against an individual, the prosecutor has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the intent to distribute or sell was present. If the prosecutor cannot prove this, then they must resort to an accusation of drug possession and not drug trafficking.

most commonly abused drugs

4 Groups of Drugs in Arizona

Four types of drug trafficking are recognized in Arizona, with each carrying the possibility of a felony charge. They are marijuana, prescription drug, dangerous drug, and narcotic drug trafficking.

1. Marijuana Drug Trafficking

The statute regulating marijuana trafficking, ARS 13-3405, makes it illegal for individuals to:

  • Possess marijuana
  • Use marijuana
  • Possess or transport marijuana for sale

The penalty you face if convicted depends on the amount of marijuana involved. The more you have, the more serious a felony you will face.

Arizona Prop 207, however, allows individuals over 21 to possess, transport, and process (but not sell) one ounce or less of marijuana and five grams or less of concentrates.

2. Prescription Drug Trafficking

In general, only pharmacists are permitted to sell and distribute prescription drugs. However, these drugs are commonly sold illegally to unauthorized users. This prohibited selling of prescription drugs can lead to a felony in Arizona.

Penalties can vary for prescription-only drug trafficking under Arizona law, depending on the situation. For example, possession of a prescription-only drug for sale is not punished as harshly as manufacturing a prescription drug for sale.

3. Dangerous Drug Trafficking

The trafficking of dangerous drugs is considered to be a Class 2 felony in the state of Arizona. Trafficking may be indicated by possession with intent to sell, transporting a dangerous drug for sale, and manufacturing a dangerous drug for sale.

Under Arizona law, there are approximately 200 different drugs that are considered dangerous, including:

  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines
  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • PCP
  • LSD

Prison time can be substantial for those convicted of trafficking dangerous drugs.

4. Narcotic Drug Trafficking

Trafficking a narcotic drug is also a Class 2 felony, which includes prison time as a punishment. Generally, narcotic drugs are also known as opioids and include:

  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Heroin
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone

Because of the current epidemic of drug abuse and the overdose of opioids, authorities tend to pursue maximum punishment for individuals charged with narcotic drug trafficking in Arizona.

What Are the Most Commonly Abused Drugs in Arizona?

drug trafficking laws

So what is the most commonly abused drug in Arizona? Fentanyl is particularly common and thought by many to be the most prevalent, but these few stand out as the most commonly abused drugs:


Heroin has been around for decades, but it was not until recently that the drug escalated into an epidemic. This can largely be attributed to the fact that Mexican cartels flood the state with heroin on a regular basis.

Additionally, the cost of heroin is far less than other types of opioids (such as those in pill form), leading people addicted to opiate pills to migrate to heroin to save money.


Meth has an extremely high potential for abuse and is one of the most common used drugs. Thanks to drug cartels, the state of Arizona is not lacking for the drug, which is typically produced in Mexico and trafficked into Arizona regularly.

Meth users use a variety of methods to ingest the drug, including:

  • Smoking
  • Vaping
  • Snorting
  • Injecting
  • Eating

Meth is particularly popular because of its ability to give the user significant pleasure, strength, and euphoria.


Cocaine, although not as widely abused as other drugs on this list, still continues to be a major problem in Arizona. It comes in many forms, including:

  • Rock
  • Crack
  • Powder
  • Liquid

It is made from coca leaves, which are native to South America and processed widely throughout Latin America. Its use can lead to serious health problems, including cardiac arrest, heart attack, and strokes.


Marijuana is one of the most widely used drugs in Arizona and the U.S. Even though many consider it to be a soft drug, users can become psychologically addicted to marijuana and marijuana concentrates.

It is most often smoked, but there are various ways to consume it, including vaping, eating (edibles), and a few ways of applying it topically. There are various strains that can be categorized as either indica, sativa, or a hybrid of the two.


Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and up to 100 times stronger than morphine.

It's particularly notorious in Arizona and is having a devastating impact on public health. Only a few grains are needed to kill an adult male, and it is responsible for a large number of opioid deaths in the state.

Users take it to experience all manner of effects, including euphoria, pain relief, relaxation, sedation, and psychological and physical numbing.

Opiate Addiction

Why Opiate Addiction Is an Epidemic in Arizona

Opiate addiction in Arizona has skyrocketed to epidemic proportions. Hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families are suffering from the ravages of opiate drugs that seem to have quite easily proliferated throughout all sectors of Arizona life.

Although opiates have been available for decades, the devastation they cause in the state gets worse every day. One reason for this can be found in understanding the business plan of Mexico's drug cartels.

According to DEA estimates, Mexico's cartels have shifted their focus from cocaine to cheaper drugs for U.S. consumers, such as methamphetamine and heroin. The lower prices fetched by opiates mean more sales and many repeat customers.

When it comes to cocaine, cartels now primarily offload this drug in Europe, where its consumers are willing to pay the drug's prices — which are far higher than the various opiate drugs available throughout the States.

Evidence in Drug Trafficking Cases

Prosecutors use various forms of evidence to prove drug trafficking in Arizona. However, the drugs themselves are typically the most vital piece of evidence to the state.

For example, if you are found to possess beyond a specific threshold amount of a particular drug, the state will automatically assume that you intended to distribute them, even if this was not the case.

However, possession over a threshold amount of drugs is not always easy to prove, even if you are in a location where drugs are present. Evidence must exist to make a reasonable inference that you knowingly possessed the drugs for purposes of sale.

Such evidence might include:

  • Large amounts of money
  • The drugs themselves
  • Text messages or emails that implicate you
  • Scales, bags, or other types of packaging
  • Drug manufacturing or cultivation equipment
  • Testimony of witnesses
  • Video footage
  • Ledgers and other financial information showing the sale of drugs

Additionally, police officers must collect this evidence in accordance with the proper protocol to protect the accused's rights. If they do not, a savvy criminal defense attorney can fight to have that evidence thrown out.

For instance, if the police find evidence of drug trafficking in your room but entered your home illegally, then your attorney will fight to have that evidence excluded.

What Are the Threshold Amounts for Drug Trafficking in Arizona?

One of the most important aspects of any drug trafficking case in Arizona is the amount of drugs found on a defendant's person or among their property. When a person is in possession of a drug in excess of a specific threshold amount, prosecutors can assume that a defendant was indeed involved in trafficking.

But for each different drug, what amount of drugs is considered trafficking can vary. According to Arizona drug trafficking laws, how much is considered drug trafficking includes:

  • Cocaine: Nine grams
  • Crack: Nine grams
  • PCP: Four grams or 50 milliliters
  • Marijuana: Two pounds
  • LSD: 0.5 milliliters or 50 doses
  • Heroin: One gram
  • Methamphetamine: Nine grams

If you are caught in possession of any of these drugs beyond their threshold amount, you will likely face a drug trafficking charge. Additionally, the state will not have to prove that you actually sold anything because the threshold amount has been breached.

However, you may also be charged with drug trafficking in Arizona if there is other evidence of trafficking, even if you do not surpass a drug's threshold amount.

What Are the Punishments for Drug Trafficking (First Offense)?

Drug trafficking first-time offenders do not get much of a break. Individuals convicted of drug trafficking in Arizona might face probation if under the threshold amount, or between 3 and 12.5 years of incarceration. However, those with experienced drug trafficking attorneys often get the lower end of the punishments set by drug trafficking laws.

An attorney can help lessen the consequences of drug trafficking by providing a robust defense.

Contact the Law Offices of Brandon White Today to Discuss Your Drug Trafficking Case

Drug trafficking in Arizona is a serious charge that can have a substantially negative effect on your life and the lives of your loved ones. But just because you're facing drug trafficking charges does not mean you will be found guilty.

At The Law Offices of Brandon White, our experienced attorneys know how to effectively fight drug trafficking charges for our clients.

No matter the situation, you do not have to go through your Arizona drugs case alone. Contact us for a consultation today.

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