#ABKLaw BLOG by Michael Jaccarino: What does it mean to be charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker in NY State?


What does it mean to be charged with Operating as a Major Trafficker in NY State?

A major New York City drug trafficker and 12 others were nabbed in a citywide, multi-agency drug bust following a year-long investigation into narcotics and gun trafficking in Brooklyn and Queens, officials announced.

During the lengthy investigation, an undercover officer purchased large amounts of fentanyl, cocaine and heroin with a street value of more than $3 million, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

In total, 33 pounds of cocaine and 25 pounds of fentanyl mixtures were seized along with an assault weapon and three guns.

Law enforcement identified 41-year-old Nelson Cruz as the ringleader of the operation. He is charged with operating as a major trafficker.  How serious of a charge is this?

The answer is….incredibly serious!

Performing Operations as a Major Trafficker: New York Penal Code § 220.77

While selling drugs a serious crime with severe repercussions, being found guilty of selling controlled substances on a large scale and making significant income doing so could result in a sentence that locks you up in prison for the rest of your life. Performing Operations as a Major Trafficker is defined in New York Penal Code § 220.77.

The elements of the crime are as follows:

  1. For twelve months or less, directed a controlled substance organization’s operations, and the controlled substances were valued at $75,000 or more; or
  2. For six months or less, profited from the sale of narcotics valued at $75,000 or more; or
  3. For six months or less, possessed narcotics valued at $75,000 or more with the intent to profit from the sale of such narcotics.

So, what should you do if you or a loved one has been charged with such a crime? The criminal defense lawyers at Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins have successfully defended many individuals charged with large scale drug enterprises or for being part of a criminal drug conspiracy.  Many of these cases are incredibly complicated and a successful defense requires an experienced criminal defense attorney, especially when there has been a significant investigation including undercover officers, confidential informants, search warrants, wiretaps, etc.  Indeed, there are many possible defenses, including those that attack the credibility of the witnesses, the legality of the search warrants, the ability of the Government to prove the total value of the drugs in question, mitigation, or a lack of probable cause.

Formulating a proper defense strategy is paramount, as the possible sentence for Performing Operations as a Major Trafficker under Penal Law Section 220.77 are severe.  As a Class A-1 felony, operating as a major trafficker is considered to be one of the most serious drug crimes in the State of New York. The maximum possible sentence is life in prison. The minimum sentence is fifteen to forty years of imprisonment, and it also carries a monetary fine of up to $100,000.

To effectively defend against the charge of performing operations as a major trafficker, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel from a reputable defense attorney.  Contact a criminal defense lawyer at Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins today.


At Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, our criminal defense lawyers have a wealth of experience in both Federal and State Court, and have defended some of the most high profile cases in the country.  Contact us today if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges of any kind.

Michael Jaccarino, and the criminal defense attorneys at Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, PC, have decades of experience. 

For more information or more fact-specific discussions, call our office and ask to speak with attorney Michael Jaccarino.


Our attorneys are in the New York City courthouses every day, experiencing the system in real time, and using the experiences to the benefit of our clients. Stay tuned to Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins for regular information on criminal justice, and how it could affect you or someone you know who has been arrested.

Call our office to learn more, or if you have a particular legal matter that requires immediate attention: 212-486-0011 or email us at Info@AidalaLaw.com