Operating as a Major Trafficker is one of the most serious narcotics charges in New York state. This charge is commonly called the “kingpin” statute, as it is designed by the legislators to go after the leaders, director and organizers of narcotics organizations.
New York Operating as a Major Trafficker charge is codified in Penal Law Section 220.77. This charge prohibits three categories of conduct:
- Directing a controlled substance organization,
- Profiting from a controlled substance organization, AND
- Profiting from a controlled substance organization and possessing a narcotic drug with intent to sell.
Operating as a Major Trafficker Charge Explained
Under Penal Law Section 220.77, a person is guilty of operating as a major trafficker when:
- Such person acts as a director of a controlled substance organization during any period of 12 months or less, during which period such controlled substance organization sells 1 or more controlled substances, and the proceeds collected or due from such sale or sales have a total aggregate value of at least $75,000, OR
- As a profiteer, such person knowingly and unlawfully sells, on one or more occasions within 6 months or less, a narcotic drug, and the proceeds collected or due from such sale or sales have a total aggregate value of $75,000 or more, OR
- As a profiteer, such person knowingly and unlawfully possesses, on one or more occasions within 6 months or less, a narcotic drug with intent to sell the same, and such narcotic drugs have a total aggregate value of $75,000 or more.
Explanations of Definitions Used in New York Operating as a Major Trafficker Charge
Much like the other legal charges in the New York Penal Law, Operating as a Major Trafficker charge also has special legal definitions of the terms used. These terms are explained in greater detail below.
What is a Controlled Substance Organization?
The term “controlled substance organization” is defined as four or more persons who engage in conduct that constitutes or advances the commission of a felony under Article 220 of the New York Penal Law. Article 220 of the New York Penal Law contains all the criminal offenses pertaining to controlled substances.
Who is Considered a Director?
A director is a person in a supervisory or managerial position within the Controlled Substances Organization. Directors within the CSO include principals, administrators, organizers or leaders or one of several principals, administrators, organizers or leaders within the DTO.
Who is Considered a Profiteer?
Under New York Law, a profiteer is someone who:
- Is a director of a controlled substance organization,
- Is a member of the controlled substance organization who has managerial responsibility over one or more members of the organization, OR
- Arranges, devises, or plans one or more transactions constituting a felony under Section 220 of the New York Penal Law and expects to obtain a
Sentencing and Penalties for Operating as a Major Trafficker
Under New York Law, Operating as a major trafficker is a class A-1 felony. As such, this particular charge is punishable by:
- A minimum of 15 to 40 years in jail,
- A maximum of life in prison.
Importantly, these types of cases are frequently associated with heavy fines. Thus, in addition to facing substantial jail time, you may also be liable for paying a fine as well as forfeiting assets that were obtained as a result of the narcotics operation.
Common Defenses to New York Operating as a Major Trafficker Charge
Improper Police Conduct
One of the most common defenses is improper police conduct. This frequently involves illegal searches or seizures. If the defense can establish bad conduct on behalf of the police, then the evidence or contraband may be suppressed.
No Leadership Role
One of the defenses to New York Operating as a Major Trafficker charge is the lack of a leadership position. It is a requirement of this charge and the individual maintain a leadership or supervisory position in the controlled substance organization. As such, if there is no leadership position or oversight position in the drug trafficking organization, then the individual cannot be convicted of Operating as a Major Trafficker. Therefore, if your attorney can establish that you were simply an employee and were acting under someone else’s direction, you cannot be prosecuted for Operating as a Major Trafficker.
Aggregate Value Less than $75,000
One of the elements that the prosecutor has to establish in Operating as a Major Trafficker cases is that the value of the sales of controlled substances is over $75,000. If the prosecutor cannot establish that the value of the controlled substances is over $75,000, then you cannot be convicted of Ne York Operating as a Major Trafficker. The value of the sale can be lowered either by lowering the weight of the substance exchanged or by lowering the value of the transaction. If we are successful in establishing that the value of the transactions is lower than $75,000, you can still be charged with other New York crimes relating to controlled substances. But you cannot be convicted of Operating as a Major Trafficker.
Contact Top Rated New York Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
If you or your loved one has been arrested and charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker, you need top rated experienced counsel by your side. These cases frequently result from months long, if not years long investigations. Therefore, you need a law firm that will dedicate all the time necessary in getting up to speed on the investigation and developing a defense. Read our client testimonials to see what our clients say about our work and schedule your consultation today.