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NY Penal Law § 220.77: Operating as a major trafficker

June 25, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Selling a few ounces of cocaine or methamphetamine is indeed a serious drug crime that carries severe penalties.  Moreover, selling massive quantities of drugs and making a substantial amount of money doing it is a crime that could send you to jail for the rest of your life. Under New York Penal Code § 220.77, to demonstrate that you are a major drug trafficker, the prosecutor must show the following:


  • That you function as the director of a controlled substance organization for 12 months or less win which controlled substances valued at $75,000, or more were sold, or
  • That you function as a profiteer who sold narcotics valued at $75,000 or more within a 6 month period or less, or
  • That you function as a profiteer who possessed, with the intent to sell, narcotics valued at $75,000 or more within a 6 month period or less



Over a period of 18 months, a woman completed approximately 35 trips from Oneonta, NY to the Bronx to obtain heroin for a man. After each trip, she transported 10-20 bundles of heroin back to Oneonta. The woman also functioned as an intermediary for heroin clients in Oneonta by calling the man on their behalf and then following his directions as to where to meet his agents to complete sales. Fifteen different people delivered heroin from the man to her during these exchanges. She was compensated in the form of heroin. On the basis of information provided by the woman, the man was arrested and charged with operating as a major trafficker. If the prosecutor can demonstrate that the amount of heroin that the woman ferried to the man in a 6 month period had a value of at least $75,000, the man will probably be convicted.


Offenses that are Related

Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 220.21

Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 220.43


Possible Defenses

A wise way to challenge a charge of operating as a major trafficker is to prove that the amount of drugs involved had a value lower than $75,000. IOn top of that, if the police seized drugs from you, you may be able to challenge the lawfulness of the search. If the search and seizure is found to have been unlawful, the prosecutor will not be able to use what was found during the search as evidence and the charges would be rendered invalid.


The Sentence

In addition to criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree, operating as a major trafficker is among the most heinous crimes in the New York Penal Codes. This crime is a class A-1 felony. What that means to you is that if you are convicted, you could get a sentence of life in prison. The minimum sentence possible on this charge is 15-40 years. You may also be liable to pay a fine of as much as $100,000.



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