Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court)
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court)
Table 1. Criminal Narcotics/Drugs Convictions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during August 2023 the government reported 1999 new narcotics/drugs convictions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 1.9 percent over the previous month.
The comparisons of the number of defendants convicted for narcotics/drugs-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (see Table 1).
When monthly 2023 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of convictions was up (16.9%).
Convictions over the past year are still much higher than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that convictions of this type are up 8.7 percent from levels reported in 2018.
Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Narcotics/Drugs Convictions
The increase from the levels five years ago in narcotics/drugs convictions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1.
The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of narcotics/drugs convictions of this type recorded on a month-to-month
basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court,
the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends.
The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so
that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.
Within the broad category of narcotics/drugs, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.
Case types within narcotics/drugs are
Simple Drug Possession
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)
Major Project Triggerlock Prosecutions (OCDETF)
Other Triggerlock Prosecutions (OCDETF)
The largest number of convictions of these matters in August 2023 was for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking", accounting for 64.2 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (35.5%).
See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for narcotics/drugs convictions in August 2023
was DEA accounting for 44 percent of convictions.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of narcotics/drugs convictions were:
FBI (21% ), DHS (17%), ATF (8%), Local (5%).
See Figure 3.
Figure 2. Specific Types of Convictions
Figure 3. Convictions by Investigative Agency
Narcotics/Drugs Convictions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In August 2023, no defendants in narcotics/drugs cases for these matters were convicted in U.S. Magistrate Courts.
These courts handle less serious
misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In
addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before
an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter
starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court
where subsequent proceedings take place.
Narcotics/Drugs Convictions in U.S. District Courts
In August 2023, 1996 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during August there
were an additional 0 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate
courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information
was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and
therefore cover all matters filed in district court during August.
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the convictions of narcotics/drugs matters
filed in U.S. District Court during August 2023.
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A
"Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (Title 21 U.S.C Section 841) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.
"Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (Title 21 U.S.C Section 841) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.
Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846.
"Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.
Ranked 3rd was "Importation of controlled substances" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 952.
"Importation of controlled substances" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 952 was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 five years ago.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in convictions — up 211.5 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 46 U.S.C Section 70503
that involves " Possession control substance on vessel subject to jurisdiction of US ".
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase — 1725 percent — was registered for
convictions under "Other US Code Section " (Title U.S.C Section ).
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in convictions compared to one year ago — down 27.5 percent — was
" Importation of controlled substances " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 952 ).
Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in convictions — 37.5 percent — was
for convictions where the lead charge was " RICO - prohibited activities " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1962 ).
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In August 2023 the Justice Department's case-by-case records show that the government obtained 721.7 narcotics/drugs convictions for every ten million people in the United States.
Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of narcotics/drugs convictions in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
The districts registering the
largest number of convictions per capita for these matters last month are shown in Table 3.
Districts must have at least 5 narcotics/drugs convictions to receive a ranking.
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)
The Southern District of California (San Diego) — with 5886 convictions as compared with 721.7 convictions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during August 2023.
The Southern District of California (San Diego) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 for most frequent use five years ago.
The District of Montana ranked 2nd.
District of North Dakota is now ranking 3rd.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock), now ranked
, and Eastern District of Kentucky (Lexington)
In the same order, these districts ranked 18th and 20th one year ago and 31st and 15th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of narcotics/drugs convictions compared to one year ago — 361.5 percent — was
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 483.3 percent — was
Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge).
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in the rate of narcotics/drugs convictions — 36.8 percent — was
South Dakota .
But over the past five years,
Northern District of West Virginia (Wheeling)
showed the largest drop — 22.5 percent.
Top Ranked District Judges
At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new narcotics/drugs crime cases resulting in convictions of this type during August 2023 are shown in Table 4.
A total of 4 out of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of narcotics/drugs convictions per capita, while the remaining 6 judges were from other districts.
Judge Timothy Lloyd Brooks in the Western District of Arkansas (Fort Smith) ranked 1st with 26 convicted in narcotics/drugs convictions.
Judges Gonzalo Paul Curiel in the Southern District of California (San Diego) and Howard Curtis Nielson, Jr. in the District of Utah ranked 2nd with 23 convicted in narcotics/drugs convictions.
Judge Curiel also appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago (ranked 4).