December 15, 2022

What Is a Drug Conspiracy Charge?

Criminal Defense

Published by Nicholas T Hart

Drug conspiracy includes an array of drug-related activities. Federal charges result in decades in prison, significant fines, and other severe penalties. You should avoid these charges at all costs.

Types of Drug Conspiracy Charges

Federal drug conspiracy is a crime that may or may not actually involve handling drugs. The government must simply prove that:

  1. There was an agreement between two or more people to break a federal drug law
  2. You knew about the conspiracy and knowingly joined it

You don’t need to have completed the criminal offense to be convicted of drug conspiracy. You must have had intent to commit the crime.

Manufacturing a Controlled Substance 

One of the most common federal drug conspiracy offenses involves manufacturing a controlled substance. This may include growing, processing, extracting, or producing illegal drugs.

Distributing a Controlled Substance 

Planning (or conspiring) to deliver illegal drugs to another person may be considered distributing a controlled substance. You don’t have to exchange money to get convicted of drug conspiracy under the distribution of a controlled substance. Any distribution qualifies under this law, including fake prescriptions, online drug pharmacies, and delivering illegal drugs to another person.

Possessing a Controlled Substance with the Intent to Distribute It

Simple drug possession involves having it on your person or within your control. However, the government may try to prove that you conspired to distribute the drugs or sell them. You may be charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs if you also possess baggies, scales, or other evidence of drug sales.

Importation of a Controlled Substance

Conspiracy to import illegal drugs may involve bringing a controlled substance into the United States from another country — this may take place by plane, boat, or roadway. The larger the operation, the more likely you will get the maximum penalties.

Consequences of Drug Conspiracy Charges

The penalties for federal drug conspiracy convictions depend on the amount and type of drug involved in the crime.


  • No alleged amount – up to 40 years in federal prison
  • 100 kg or more – between five and 40 years in federal prison
  • 1,000 kg or more – between 10 and 40 years in federal prison


  • 100 kg or more – between five and 40 years in federal prison
  • 1 kg or more – between 10 and 40 years in federal prison

Cocaine and Crack Cocaine

  • 500 g or more of cocaine or 28 g or more of crack – between five and 40 years in federal prison
  • 5 kg or more of cocaine or 280 g or more of crack – between 10 and 40 years in federal prison


  • Less than 5 g – up to 20 years in federal prison
  • 5 g or more – between five and 40 years in federal prison
  • 50 g or more – 10 years up to life in prison

Opioids and GHB (including ketamine and fentanyl)

  • Up to 20 years in federal prison
  • Enhanced penalties involving death or serious injury to another person
  • Enhanced penalties for any prior felony drug convictions

Possible Defenses to Drug Conspiracy Charges

Many of the defenses against drug conspiracy charges are similar to those that can be used in other criminal cases. Those include:

  • Illegal search or seizure
  • Lack of valid search warrant
  • Law enforcement exceeded search warrant
  • Law enforcement failed to read your Miranda rights
  • You were denied legal counsel after a request
  • Law enforcement entrapped you in a conspiracy situation

However, some unique defense tactics can be used with conspiracy charges. For example, conspiracy is a “specific intent” crime. That means you must have had actual knowledge and intent to commit the crime. It is not required that you committed the crime. However, you must have purposefully conspired to commit the crime.

Also, if you withdrew from the conspiracy before the crime occurred, you can use this to your benefit. This would be an especially strong defense if you worked with law enforcement against the conspiracy.

Contact a Drug Conspiracy Lawyer Right Away

If the government charges you with federal drug conspiracy, they have likely already conducted an investigation and have significant evidence against you. You must hire a drug crime lawyer immediately to get someone on your side to protect your rights. You need an independent investigation and practical assistance from your counsel.

Call Harrison & Hart, LLC today at (505) 295-3261 or contact us online to schedule a case consultation.

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