Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking refers to the manufacturing and sales of illicit drugs or the transportation of illicit drugs. The crime carries harsh penalties throughout the state of Illinois, including in the city of Chicago. The state charges almost all drug trafficking offenses as felonies, which involve a possible minimum prison term of one year and a fine of $25,000. However, the state assesses drug fines and related court costs differently than those assessed for other felonies.


The state places drug trafficking charges in two separate categories: trafficking of marijuana and trafficking of controlled substances. Controlled substances refer to most other drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, morphine, LSD, and peyote. The trafficking of less than 10 grams of marijuana can be an exception to the felony classification of drug trafficking offenses. The state can classify the offense as a class A or B misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Penalties continue to increase rapidly depending on the amount of marijuana included in the trafficking charges. When the threshold amount reaches 5,000 grams of marijuana, the state can charge the defendant with a class 1 felony. The consequences include fines in amounts up to $200,000 and prison sentences that can range from six to 30 years. This is a similar penalty for trafficking a maximum of 15 grams of cocaine, LSD, heroin, morphine, or methamphetamine. The fine increases up to $250,000, and the person can get a sentence of between four and fifteen years in the state penitentiary. For possession of more than 15 grams of these drugs, prison sentences significantly increase and can range from six to 60 years depending on the specific amount of the drugs. The drug trafficker can receive a fine in an amount up to $500,000. For trafficking over 400 grams of any of these controlled drugs, an offender may need to pay the equivalent amount of the street value of the drugs and receive a sentence of 12 to 60 years in prison.

Circumstances that Influence Sentencing

A variety of factors, including the type and amount of drugs, will enhance sentencing. Other factors relate to the actual crime itself. These factors include the presence or discharge of a gun when arrested, the presence of a minor at the scene, or commission of the crime near a school or another public venue where children might be present. Other factors that might enhance sentencing are the person’s criminal history, recommendations from law enforcement personnel and interested parties, the social background of the offender, and the age of the offender. Prior possession, sales, distribution, manufacturing, or trafficking offenses will also seriously impact sentencing.