Drug Trafficking Charges in Maine: What is Trafficking?

You might be surprised to learn that in Maine, many Drug Trafficking cases are charged where no one was actually caught selling drugs. One common scenario is that police search a person or vehicle, often after using drug dogs to get probable cause, they then find drugs that they believe were intended for trafficking. The case is then submitted to the Prosecutor and, in York, Cumberland, Androscoggin, and most other Southern Maine Counties, these cases will be approved for Felony Drug Trafficking Charges. Click this link for information about Drug Possession Charges.

Elements of Drug Trafficking in Maine

To be guilty of Drug Trafficking in Maine (17-A §1103) a person must:

  1. Intentionally or knowingly
  2. Traffic in
  3. What the person knows or believes to be a scheduled drug
  4. Which is in fact a scheduled drug
  • Trafficking in schedule W drugs is a class B felony
  • Trafficking in schedule X drugs is a class C felony
  • Trafficking in schedule Y drugs is a class D misdemeanor
  • Trafficking in schedule Z drugs is a class D misdemeanor

Click for more information about Maine’s trafficking definition,  here for Maine’s drug classification scheme, here for information about aggravated trafficking charges and here for more on Maine felony and misdemeanor sentences.

What Counts as Drug “Trafficking”

Many people don’t understand that Maine law on drug trafficking doesn’t require the state to prove that someone sold drugs. While selling drugs to someone is trafficking the law also defines trafficking to mean:

  • To manufacture drugs
  • To deliver drugs to someone
  • To trade or barter drugs for something other than money
  • To Possess drugs with the intent to sell, or trade them
  • To possess, without any other proof of intent, 2 grams or more of heroin

Drug Trafficking by Possessing Large Amounts

Maine law also contains a set of “presumptive trafficking” scenarios. Under these circumstances, a jury may infer that a person was trafficking if the state proves that the person merely possessed a certain drug quantity:
  • More than 1 pound of marijuana
  • 14 grams or more of powder cocaine
  • 4 grams or more of crack cocaine
  • 14 grams or more of methamphetamine
  • 90 or more pills containing any other narcotic drug
  • Any number of pills that total 800 milligrams or more of oxycodone or 100 milligrams or more of hydromorphone
  • 30 or more pills containing MDMA or other similar drugs.

If those amounts can be proved, the state has presented enough evidence to support a trafficking conviction. The Defense can cross examine witnesses and present other evidence to challenge the drug trafficking inference. The jury must consider all of this in determining whether drug trafficking is proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Federal Drug Trafficking Charges

The Federal Government has the authority to regulate controlled substances. Because of that, drug trafficking can be charged as federal crime. Many Federal cases start as Maine State drug trafficking charges and are then “picked up” by the Federal prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office. The federal law prohibiting the illegal manufacture, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute controlled substances is found at 21 USC § 841.

In Federal Court, drug trafficking is often charged as a conspiracy in violation of 21 USC § 846. Under this theory, people who are loosely tied to the drug trafficking itself can be charged with the same Federal crime and held responsible for the entire amount of drugs involved in the operation. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines for drug trafficking can be horrific. Defendants in Federal trafficking cases often face decades in prison for conduct that Maine State Courts might punish with relatively short jail or prison sentences.

Drug Trafficking Charges in Maine: What is Trafficking? by
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