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Operating as a Major Trafficker

Once of the most serious drug offenses under New York law is operating as a major trafficker (often called “drug trafficking”). This criminal offense is also known as the “Drug Kingpin” statute. 

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office prosecutes cases in the New York State Supreme Court for drug trafficking offenses with assistance from the Violent Criminal Enterprises Unit. 

Other agenies that participate in these investigaitons include the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau of the Narcotics Division. In Manhattan, the Narcotics Division includes the Narcotics Borough Manhattan North and the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force. The Strike Force is partially funded by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

The strike force is comprised of officers and agents of the NYPD, the New York State Police, the DEA, the FBI, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshal Service, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the New York Department of Taxation and Finance and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

We are familiar with these agenies and how they conduct investigations into drug charges throughout Manhattan and the State of New York.

Attorney for Drug Trafficking in Manhattan

If you were charged with drug trafficking under New York Penal Law § 220.77 then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case. The attorneys at Greco Neyland, PC represent clients charged with serious drug crimes for possession, sale and trafficking throughout Manhattan and the surrounding areas in New York City in state and federal court. 

Call us today at (212) 951-1300 to discuss your case.


Elements of New York Penal Law § 220.77

Under Penal Law § 220.77, operating as a major trafficker is a class A-1 felony. The elements of the crime of operating as a major trafficker require proof beyond all reasonable doubt that:

(1) The person acts as director of a controlled substance organization, and

  • During any period of 12 months or less, the controlled substance organization sells one or more controlled substances; and
  • The sale or sales of the controlled substances during that period have a total aggregate value of $75,000 or more. 

(2) The person, as a profiteer,

  • knowingly and unlawfully sells;
  • a narcotic drug;
  • on one or more occasions;
  • within 6 months or less; and
  • the proceeds collected from the sale or sales have a total aggregate value of $75,000 or more (Penal Law § 220.77(2).

(3) The person, as a profiteer,

  • knowingly and unlawfully possesses;
  • a narcotic drug;
  • on one or more occasions within 6 months or less;
  • with intent to sell the narcotic; and
  • the narcotic drugs have a total aggregate value of $75,000 or more.

Definitions under Penal Law § 220.77

Controlled substance organization is defined as four or more persons who share a common purpose to engage in conduct that constitutes or advances the commission of a felony under this article. Penal Law § 220.00(18).

The term “director” is defined as a person who is either the principal administrator, organizer, or leader of a controlled substance organization, or one of several principal administrators, organizers, or leaders of a controlled substance organization. Penal Law § 220.00(19).

New York law defines the term “profiteer” as a person who:

  • is a director of a controlled substance organization;
  • is a member of a controlled substance organization and has managerial responsibility over one or more other members of the organization; or
  • arranges, devises, or plans one or more transactions that constitute a felony under this article so as to obtain profit or expected profits.

A person is not a profiteer if:

  • the person is acting only as an employee;
  • the person is acting as an accommodation to a friend or relative; and
  • the person is acting only under the direction and control of others and exercises no substantial, independent role in arranging or directing the transactions in question. Penal Law § 220.00(20).

The jury instructions for operating as a major trafficker can be found in § 26:20.50.


Additional Resources: 

2014 Report on Drug Law Reform in New York – Visit the Division of Criminal Justice Services in New York to find a report from May of 2014 that summarizes the impact of judicial diversion on admissions to felony drug court and associated recidivism rates in the State of New York. The report was designed to measure the impact of the 2009 Drug Law Reform which eliminated mandatory prison sentences or reduced minimum sentence lengths for some drug crimes prosecuted under state law.

Sentencing Chart for Drug Offenses – Find a chart created by the Center for Community Alternatives for drug crimes prosecuted under the 2009 Rockefeller Drug Law Reform Act. For different felony offenses, the charge shows the determinate sentence term and the term of post-release supervision. The charge also shows whether probation, an alternative definate sentence, Y.O, parole supervision, SHOCK, judicially ordered SHOCK, a CASAT sentence or judicial diversion is permitted.


Attorney for Drug Trafficking Crimes in Manhattan

Under Penal Law § 220.77, the criminal offense of “operating as a major trafficker” is charged as a class A-1 felony. The penalties and punishments are harsh. Call a criminal defense attorney for drug crimes at Greco Neyland, PC to discuss your case and possible defenses today.

Our attorneys also represent clients on related charges such as criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree under § 220.43, criminal possession of a controlled substancein the first degree under § 220.21.

Related charges can also include conspiracy and money laundering because drug trafficking cases often involve proof of the funneling the proceeds of the narcotics operation through financial institutions, providing false information to open and maintain accounts, and structuring financial transactions, including bank deposits, in order to conceal the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the funds deposited in these accounts.

This article was last updated on Friday, May 27, 2016.

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