December 9, 2023
Earlier this year, a 40-year-old man’s overdose in Fort Collins drew state authority attention to a Colorado drug trafficking ring. The overdose became a catalyst in authorities from the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force embarking on an investigation – Operation Malverde.
After eight months of hard work, the team’s efforts paid off. In recent news, authorities dismantled the drug trafficking organization, issuing eight search and arrest warrants.
Raids at eight separate locations (Arvada, Aurora, Berthoud, Campion, Denver, Fort Collins, and Thorton) resulted in SWAT team members seizing an undisclosed amount of illicit substances and weapons. Drug seizures included heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine, and firearms were also taken during the raids.
According to officials, updates about the case will be revealed in the near future as the investigation continues.
Colorado Drug Trafficking Penalties Mirror Federal Level Convictions’
If convicted of drug trafficking, those involved in the Colorado drug ring will face tough penalties. Just as convictions at a federal level, Colorado drug laws call for mandatory minimum trafficking penalties. As such, the drug traffickers face lengthy minimum prison sentences and staggering fines.
When referring to illegal substances, “trafficking” refers to the act of moving large amounts of drugs with the purpose of distributing them. Trafficking often involves moving drugs between multiple states and countries.
Under Colorado statute (Section 18-18-405), the defendants arrested in the drug ring raid could be convicted of drug trafficking should they be found to have intentionally:
- Manufactured, dispensed, sold, distributed, or possessed with the intention of manufacturing, dispensing, selling, or distributing a controlled substance
- Coerced or cooperated with another person to manufacture, dispense, sell, distribute, or possess with the intention of manufacturing, dispensing, selling, or distributing a controlled substance
- Possessed materials or equipment that they intended to use to manufacture a controlled substance
Actual drug trafficking charges are typically made dependant on the amount and type of drugs involved in the incident.
For example, if the defendants are charged with trafficking over 225 grams of a Schedule I or II drug, they may be charged with a Level 1 drug felony.
Penalties for conviction of a level 1 drug felony include up to 32 years in prison (with a mandatory minimum of eight years) and can carry up to $1 million in fines. The mandatory minimum fine is $5,000.
If you are facing similar drug trafficking charges, talk to your Colorado defense attorneys about the specific circumstances surrounding your situation.
They will be able to clarify exactly what penalties you may be subject to and offer advice on the best course of action for your case.
What about Marijuana Trafficking in Colorado?
The drug ring may have been dealing with drugs that are illegal in Colorado like heroin and methamphetamines, but those aren’t the only drugs that could have gotten them into trouble.
Surprisingly enough, trafficking marijuana in the state of Colorado can garner similar consequences, too. That’s right. Even though recreational marijuana is legal in our state, you can still get in trouble for selling or distributing marijuana if you do not comply with state regulations.
For instance, trafficking over 50 pounds of marijuana or 25 pounds of concentrate constitutes a Level 1 drug felony.
If you are convicted of a Level 1 drug felony involving marijuana, you face the same penalties as someone convicted of trafficking over 225 grams of a schedule I or II drug – that is, up to 32 years in prison and $1 million in fines, as well as that eight-year minimum.
Drug trafficking regulations can often be complex and confusing. Find an experienced Colorado drug trafficking defense attorney to help you navigate this complicated (and regularly changing) system.
If you are facing drug trafficking charges in the state of Colorado, don’t go it alone. A conviction here could mean a mandatory minimum sentence of years behind bars and staggering fines.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.