drugs in car trunk

Leader of Narcotics Trafficking Network N.J.S.A. 2C:35-3 Attorney in Hudson County


Anyone charged with the crime of being the Leader of a Narcotics Trafficking Network in New Jersey is facing a conviction for a first degree felony offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-3. Such crimes are the highest level felony offenses in the State of New Jersey, which allow for harsh punishment for those who are found guilty. In fact, drug kingpin charges are punished more severely than even typical first degree crimes, with the potential to result in a life prison sentence for those convicted. The crime is easier to prove than one might think and does necessarily involve large quantities of money, drugs, or employees. For this reason, mounting a strategic defense is pivotal in gaining ground and avoiding a life behind bars. When you have been accused of being the leader of a drug trafficking network in Hudson County, the benefit of having a knowledgeable and experienced drug crime attorney like those at William Proetta Criminal Law cannot be overstated. One of our founders, William Proetta, has been defending clients arrested and facing some of the most extreme drug charges in Jersey City, Hoboken, Secaucus, Bayonne, North Bergen, Weehawken, Union City, and throughout Hudson County for over ten years. When he personally takes on your case, you can place your trust in a highly accomplished criminal defense lawyer who will go the extra mile to investigate, prepare, and execute your best defense. Our team is here to offer answers and individualized assistance in a free consultation. We encourage you to contact our local Jersey City office at (201)-793-8018 to discuss your drug trafficking case.


For the criminal charge of being the leader of a narcotics trafficking network under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-3, law enforcement may file a warrant complaint for this crime against any person they believe conspired with at least two other people to:

  • Manufacture;
  • Distribute;
  • Dispense; or
  • Transport into this state certain controlled dangerous substances (CDS).

Specifically, it is unlawful for an individual to agree with others to perform the above acts as it pertains to any Schedule I or II controlled dangerous substance. The list of substances for which you can face a drug kingpin charge includes methamphetamine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), phencyclidine (PCP), and flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), heroin, marijuana, mushrooms, and cocaine.

Importantly, it must be alleged and ultimately proven that you were the person who financially backed the actions of co-conspirators or that you financed the transactions. Otherwise, the state must prove to a jury that you managed, organized, or oversaw a minimum of one other person in the operation. It must be shown that you purposely carried out actions in furtherance or promotion of the narcotics scheme.


When most people think of a person who is in charge of a drug trafficking network, they instantly bring to mind large amounts of cash flowing freely between buyer, dealer, and financier. The truth is that not all persons accused of leading a narcotics trafficking network have made a substantial profit or large amounts of cash in the scope of their offense. As such, it is not a valid defense to claim that you did not make a profit or obtained minimal amounts of financial benefit from the enterprise.

In fact, to be a financier of the network, it only needs to be proven that you intended to make a profit. This intention is thereafter realized or made known by providing the means for purchasing a controlled dangerous substance or simply by funding the drug trafficking network. In other words, did you buy drugs to sell in New Jersey? Did you provide the place for the drugs to be made and the goods to manufacture them? If so, you could be said to be financing the CDS manufacturing operation.

Additionally, it is not a defense to the crime that you were acting under the guidance or insistence of another when violating N.J.S.A. 2C:35-3. Essentially, you cannot assert that there was someone above you who was managing the operation. Similarly, you cannot claim that the drugs were brought into this state for sale in a state other than New Jersey. The intention to sell drugs in another state is not an effective defense either.


As with any other case, there are defenses available for leading a narcotics trafficking enterprise and the state has the burden of proving you guilty. Often, the witnesses needed to testify as to the conspiracy may not be available or the state comes up short on evidence proving the conspiracy to traffic drugs. Additionally, there may be very little evidence that you brought drugs into New Jersey or manufactured them with the intent to sell them. Moreover, the facts as alleged may only prove that you possessed drugs or intended to sell them but that you were not involved in any narcotics trafficking operation. Perhaps there is no real way for the state to tie you to proceeds, management, or financial backing in the drug trafficking scheme.


A charge or conviction for being the leader of a drug trafficking network subjects you to some of the worst punishment that New Jersey criminal courts can hand down. This crime is a first degree felony offense and it is absolutely certain that you will go to state prison if found guilty. In fact, you face more punishment for leading a CDS trafficking ring than many other first degree indictable offenses. Specifically, ten to twenty years in prison is the general prison term for first degree crimes. For the high level drug offense of being the leader of a drug trafficking network, the Judge may sentence you to life in prison. This hefty sentence also requires that you serve every day of, at minimum, a 25-year term before you may even be considered for release by the Parole Board, provided that you do not reach a more favorable plea agreement to avoid such consequences. The fine is also increased from the usual $250,000 to as much as $750,000, or 5-times the value of the drug involved but not greater than $750,000.

The above sentence shall be served in addition to any other sentence imposed for crimes associated with the drug kingpin offense. As an example, crimes that are often simultaneously filed and actionable in drug trafficking cases include:

To compound an already dire situation, if you have had two criminal offenses in the last ten years and meet other criteria, prosecutors can apply to have you sentenced to an extended term of incarceration as a persistent offender. This term can be added to a life sentence.


If you have been accused of being the leader of a drug trafficking network, the accomplished criminal defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law are fully equipped to get started on defending your case. After we review all of the proposed evidence, the state’s actions in the course of the narcotics investigation, potential witnesses or statements made by you or anyone else during law enforcement questioning, and other factors and evidence that may be involved, we can develop the best approach for your defense, bearing in mind the complete picture of what works in your favor and what weighs against you. No matter what evidence is present, what information is missing, or what is alleged, we are ready to aggressively attack the state’s case against you when facing drug kingpin charges. We know that your life is on the line and will use all of our experience and resources to protect your rights and preserve your future in any way we can. Contact our office in Jersey City to discuss your drug trafficking case and find personalized legal assistance. We are available anytime, day or night, to meet your needs. Call (201)-793-8018 for a free consultation.