Drug Trafficking By the Numbers - 9 Facts - Federal Statistics

Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Federal Drug Trafficking
Drug Trafficking
How and why do we lead the world in per capita number of people in prison?  

The war on citizens, also known as the war on drugs continues in United States District Courts across the country. The presumptive punishment for almost every drug trafficking case is incarceration. The numbers are in for the most recent period. Nothing has changed. If there is a drug trafficking conviction in Federal Court, 96.3 percent of the time, the defendant lands in prison for an average of 72 months. Below is a breakdown of the data we just reviewed.


  • Most drug trafficking offenders were sentenced to imprisonment (96.3%).
  • More than three-quarters of drug traffickers were sentenced either within the guideline range (39.7%) or below the range at the government’s request (38.5%). 
  • An additional 20.7% of drug traffickers received a non-government sponsored below range sentence, with the remaining 1.1% of offenders sentenced above the guideline range.
  • The average sentence length for all drug traffickers was 72 months. 
  • The average sentence varied substantially depending on the type of drug trafficked in the offense.
  • 63.7% of all drug trafficking offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty; however, less than half of these offenders (41.3%) remained subject to that penalty at sentencing.
  • 20.0% provided the government with substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of other offenders, 
  • 28.5% were eligible for relief through the statutory safety valve provision,
  • 10.2% received both forms of relief.
Source: United States Sentencing Commission 2013.