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Opioid Trafficking Penalties in Nebraska

By Jason Bottlinger on December 15, 2021

Opioid addiction has become a major issue in our state and across the nation. The COVID pandemic has worsened the drug overdose epidemic, as stated in an issue brief by the American Medical Association (AMA). Among other drugs, the epidemic is driven by illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.

Overdoses on prescription opioids and heroin are high and increasingly contaminated with illicit fentanyl. In a coordinated effort with state and federal law enforcement, the DEA seized 1.8 million counterfeit pills and arrested more than 800 drug trafficking suspects in August and September of 2021, as stated by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

$26 Billion Settlement Between Nebraska AG and Pharmaceutical Companies

The Nebraska Opioid Prevention and Treatment Act was enacted in 2020. In July of 2021, Attorney General Doug Peterson announced a $26 billion multistate agreement to bring relief to people struggling with opioid addiction throughout the country.

This agreement includes drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and the three major pharmaceutical distributors in the U.S. – Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen. It requires major industry changes to help prevent this type of crisis in the future. Johnson & Johnson is to pay up to $5 billion in a nine-year period and up to $3.7 billion during the first three years. Collectively, the three pharmaceutical distributors will pay up to $21 billion in an 18-year period.

This settlement resulted from investigations by state attorneys general into whether these major drug distributors had upheld their legal duty to deny shipments of opioids to pharmacies that submitted suspicious drug orders. Most of the money from the settlement will be spent on opioid addiction treatment and prevention. The funds will be divided among the states according to a formula that factors in the impact of the opioid crisis on the state.

What Is Opioid Trafficking?

In Nebraska, the term “drug trafficking” is used to refer to the most serious drug offenses. Drug trafficking crimes carry heavy penalties, including long prison terms and large fines. It is unlawful “(a) To manufacture, distribute, deliver, dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, deliver, or dispense a controlled substance; or (b) to create, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute a counterfeit controlled substance,” as stated in Nebraska Revised Statute 28-416.

What Are the Penalties for Opioid Trafficking?

Committing acts prohibited by the above statute is a Class II felony when it involves an exceptionally hazardous drug. Otherwise, it is a Class IIA felony when the offense involves a drug listed in Schedules I, II, or III, which includes opioids. Upon conviction, a Class IIA felony carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years with no mandatory minimum sentence. A Class II felony carries a maximum prison sentence of 50 years with a mandatory one-year minimum sentence.

How Can a Lawyer Help You Fight Drug Trafficking Charges?

Your best chance of obtaining the best possible outcome in your case is to have an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. Our knowledgeable drug trafficking defense lawyers are dedicated to planning a compelling, thoroughly researched defense. When we represent the accused in drug trafficking cases, we review every detail of the evidence, police procedure, and other facts to identify any flaw in the prosecution’s case. We could move to dismiss for lack of evidence and argue to suppress evidence if the police violated the right to protection against unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. When in the best interests of our clients, we may negotiate to reach a plea bargain with the prosecution.

Penalties are severe for drug trafficking in Nebraska. If you are facing opioid trafficking charges, call Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234 today. We have experience defending clients in criminal court on drug charges. Our Omaha criminal defense lawyers could provide the strong representation you need to protect your future.

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