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New York Penal Code § 220.77: Operating as a major trafficker

New York Penal Code § 220.77: Operating as a major trafficker

There are many things a person can be charged with in the world of drug crimes. Being charged as Operating as a Major Trafficker is one of the most serious. Any individual who is accused of distributing, possessing or selling a large amount of illegal drugs should realize they are facing a very serious situation. This charge is a serious offense in New York as well as with federal law. The consequences for individuals convicted of this crime are extremely severe.


Once a person is arrested and charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker, the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt will rest with the prosecutor. It will be their responsibility to establish an individual was directing a controlled substance organization for up to a year and the value of the controlled substances by the organization was $75,000 or more. A prosecutor could also try to prove an individual is a profiteer. This means within a span of up to six months, the value of the narcotics they sold was $75,000 or more. An attempt could also be made to prove an individual was a profiteer who, within a span of up to six months, had clear intent to sell narcotics with a value of $75,000 or more.


During a two-year period, a man makes approximately 38 trips from Poughkeepsie to the Bronx to purchase cocaine for an individual. He transports 22 bundles of cocaine back to Poughkeepsie after each trip. This individual also is an intermediary for those who want to purchase cocaine from this individual in Poughkeepsie. He will call the individual with the cocaine on behalf of those who want to purchase the drugs. He will also follow instructions of where to meet people to complete the sales. At this time, 16 different people obtained cocaine from him during such transactions. The man was paid in cocaine. Should there be information provided by the man, the individual receiving the cocaine from the Bronx could be charged with Operating as a Major trafficker. Should the amount of cocaine involved during the six month period have a minimum value of $75,000, the individual will probably be convicted.


In New York, a conviction of Operating as a Major Trafficker is classified as a Class A-1 Felony. It is considered the most serious drug crime. A sentence for the maximum punishment is life in prison. This minimum sentence is 15 to 40 years in prison. A person found guilty could also be required to pay up to $100,000 in fines. Factors associated with sentencing will involve a defendant’s previous criminal history and drug history. The amount and types of drugs involved in the case. If firearms were used and if a conspiracy existed. If money laundering the drug proceeds is part of the case as well as if there were any death or injuries involved with the defendant’s trafficking activities and more.

Legal Defense

An experienced defense attorney may try to prove the value of the drugs used as evidence were under $75,000. If this can be proven, it may make it possible for the individual on trial to face a lesser charge. A defense attorney may also try to show there was a lack of probable cause. Discovering illegal drugs often requires a search to be conducted based on probable cause. Members of law enforcement must show they believe a crime had been committed in order to use probable cause as a reason to conduct a search. A defense attorney may argue law enforcement did not have a valid reason to believe laws had been broken. They will try to show probable cause did not exist. If this happens, the drugs or any other materials confiscated during law enforcement’s search won’t be able to be used as evidence during court proceedings.

A charge of Operating as a Major Trafficker is considered a kingpin drug charge. It is an extremely serious situation. If not handled properly, it could have a devastating impact on a person’s life. An experienced defense attorney will know the most effective defense tactics to use in this situation. A criminal defense lawyer can gather all the necessary evidence to protect their client’s rights and obtain the best possible result.

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