Drug importation, as the name of the offense implies, is most often a federal crime under 21 U.S.C. Section 952. Under federal law, it is a crime to bring Schedule I or II drugs from outside the US, including such drugs as cocaine, heroin, PCP, marijuana or any other narcotic. Attempting to import or export such drugs is also prohibited.

Drug smuggling is included under federal statutes and covers attempted distribution and possession of controlled substances from boats or aircraft that are in the US territorial waters, which is 12 miles of the US coast, or which are intended to be within US territory.Get more on the topic from this page.

Drug Conspiracy Laws

Federal laws are especially harsh on anyone who participates in any stage of the importation. Participants need not even have met any other member of the conspiracy. As a role player, no matter how minor, you can be charged with the most serious offenses and be charged with any and every crime committed by any member of the conspiracy.

Prescription drugs are big business in this country and the most abused drugs. Federal law prohibits the importation of new drugs unapproved by the FDA.


If you are simply charged with drug importation, the state and federal government are permitted to seize any of the fruits of the alleged conspiracy including your money, home, cars, or firearms if authorities believe these were used in the crime or which were acquired from funds obtained from the sale of illegal drugs.

If your case is dismissed or charges dropped or you are acquitted, you can only regain possession by filing a claim in civil court.

Importation is a felony. The amount of your fine and time in federal or state prison varies depending on the weighted amounts:

1.For relatively small amounts, such as 1 kilogram of heroin or 5 kilograms to 499 kilograms of coca leaves, your fine is between $10 and $50 million and incarceration in state or federal prison of 10 years to life.
2.If death or serious bodily injury is shown to have resulted from use of the imported drug, you face 20 years to life.

State penalties include incarceration of 3 to 5 years with more time if you imported the drug to a noncontiguous California county. If your activities involved minors as couriers or salespersons, you can spend from 3 to 9 years in prison. Your sentence is enhanced whenever any drug transaction takes place within 1,000 feet of schools, school-sponsored activities or playgrounds.

Related Offenses

Along with drug importation, you face other equally serious felony offenses:

-Money laundering
-Tax evasion

These offenses carry substantial penalties as well as seizure of assets deemed the product of drug importation. As with drug importation charges, your assets may be seized even if you are not charged or convicted. Often these cases involve a long list of participants and financial documentation needed to prove additional offenses. In many cases, prosecutors will ask minor role players to testify in return for leniency.