Drug Trafficking

Population Snapshot

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Of the 64,142 cases reported to the Commission in fiscal year 2022, 20,037 involved drugs.[1] Of those, 19,851 cases involved drug trafficking.[2] Seven drug types account for 98.0% of drug trafficking offenses. This document provides an overview of those offenders, though this information may vary depending on the type of drug involved in the offense. [3], [4]

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Offender Characteristics


  • 82.2% of drug trafficking offenders were men.
  • 42.7% were Hispanic, 28.1% were Black, 26.0% were White, and 3.2% were Other races.
  • Their average age was 37 years.
  • 84.0% were United States citizens.
  • 41.7% had little or no prior criminal history (Criminal History Category I); 5.5% were career offenders.
  • Sentences were increased for:
    • possessing a weapon (26.4%);
    • a leadership or supervisory role in the offense (6.2%).
  • Sentences were decreased for:
    • minor or minimal participation in the offense (19.5%);
    • meeting the safety valve criteria in the sentencing guidelines (34.7%).
  • The top five districts for drug trafficking offenders were:
    • Southern District of California (1,755);
    • Southern District of Texas (975);
    • Western District of Texas (955);
    • Northern District of Texas (715);
    • Northern District of Ohio (534).






  • The average sentence for drug trafficking offenders was 78 months but varied by drug type.
  • 96.6% were sentenced to prison.
  • 64.7% were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty; of those offenders, 55.4% were relieved of that penalty.









[1] Drug offenses include cases where offenders were sentenced under USSG Chapter Two, Part D (Drugs).

[2] Drug Trafficking offenders were sentenced under USSG §§2D1.1 (Drug Trafficking), 2D1.2 (Protected Locations), 2D1.5 (Continuing Criminal Enterprise), 2D1.6 (Use of a Communication Facility), 2D1.8 (Rent/Manage Drug Establishment), 2D1.10 (Endangering Human Life), or 2D1.14 (Narco-Terrorism).

[3] Cases with incomplete sentencing information were excluded from the analysis.

[4] The 'Fentanyl' category includes both Fentanyl (N-phenyl-N-[1-(2-phenylethyl)-4-piperidinyl] Propanamide) and Fentanyl Analogue.

SOURCE: United States Sentencing Commission, FY 2018 through FY 2022 Datafiles, USSCFY18-USSCFY22.