Drug laws in the United States are designed to assign penalties based on the perceived seriousness of a particular offense. For example, a person who was found to be in possession of a small quantity of drugs intended for personal use will face a less serious penalty than someone who tried to sell or distribute drugs. The harshest penalties are reserved for offenders convicted of dealing drugs on a large scale.
Continuing Criminal Enterprise Drug Charges
Police investigators arrest small-time drug dealers in order to find out who is supplying the lower-level dealers with drugs in bulk. This can lead investigators to the heads of an organized drug dealing operation. The leaders of the drug operation can face prosecution under the kingpin statute.
According to the U.S. Code, the CCE Statute, also known as the Kingpin Law, is designed to put the heads of drug trafficking rings behind bars for a long time. This can effectively shut down an entire drug dealing operation. In order to be prosecuted under the Kingpin Law, the state must prove that the accused individual committed certain actions:
- The accused must have been a leader or organizer who supervised 5 or more people in the commission of three related federal drug crimes in a certain period of time. The accused must also have derived substantial profits from supervising lower-level employees in a scheme to traffic drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or marijuana.
Kingpin Law Penalties
The punishments for drug kingpins are among the most severe under federal law. This is because federal prosecutors have a vested interest in putting drug kingpins behind bars for a long time. Some punishments include:
- A first-time conviction for operating a criminal enterprise carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 20 years. Additional prison time can be added for a life sentence and a fine of up to $1 million.
- A second conviction for leading a criminal enterprise, or a first-time conviction for operating a very large-scale criminal enterprise, carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years and a maximum of life in prison. Also, convictions for CCE Statue violations cannot be suspended.