While drug manufacturing once happened in other parts of the world, a lot of it has moved to the United States. The ease of making various types of illegal drugs has changed the face of who is manufacturing drugs.

However, manufacturing drugs also comes with consequences.

What is “Drug Manufacturing?”

Manufacturing drugs is often done by setting up a chemistry lab.

The people who set up the labs are often referred to as “cooks” or “drug chemists.” Individuals have found that making illegal drugs can be easy. In addition, they can do it practically anywhere including in the home, a trailer, hotel room, or even a car.

Unfortunately, working in these makeshift labs with these harmful chemicals can lead to explosions, and the manufacturer is not the only person that can be harmed. Those in danger can also include other persons in the vicinity, animals, neighbors, and property.

Because of the number of drug labs that are appearing and the effects that these labs have on the community, law enforcement has been working hard to put a stop to drug manufacturing labs.  If you have found yourself in a situation where you are being investigated or have been charged with drug manufacturing, contact us today.

The Controlled Substance Act, 21 U.S.C. §841

The Controlled Substance Act, 21 U.S.C. §841, is a federal law that banned the possession of various drugs, narcotics, and controlled substances. In addition, it bans the production of them as well.

It does not matter if you were making drugs for your own personal use or to sell; the act itself is illegal. You could be charged, face fines, and depending on the type, amount, and quality of drug could face serious jail time as well.

Elements Needed to Prove Guilty for Drug Manufacturing

A quick look at 21 U.S.C. §841 shows that it is unlawful for a person to knowingly or intentionally manufacture or create a controlled substance or counterfeit substance. While this statute may seem confusing, it can be broken down into elements.

The elements of this statute are:

  • knowingly or intentionally

This is the knowledge element. It means that you purposely conducted yourself in a certain way.

  • manufacture or create

This part refers to the specific act that is prohibited. Here the government would need to show that you were in the act of manufacturing (which would include the repackaging).

  • a controlled substance or counterfeit substance

Finally, this refers to the object that you were manufacturing. Here the government would have to show that the substance was, in fact, a controlled substance, or that it was a counterfeit substance. Generally, it must be proven that you knew or should have known that this controlled substance was controlled or you believed it to be a controlled substance (even though it may not have been).

The reason for breaking down the statute is that you need to understand that these are elements of a crime, and it is the government’s responsibility, their burden, to prove each one of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. Without doing so, you cannot be found guilty.

Really what this means is that if all they could prove was that you had a controlled substance on you, but they could not prove that you manufactured it, then you could not be found guilty of manufacturing drugs. You could, however, depending on all the facts, be found guilty of other crimes. The law requires all elements of a crime to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, not just one or some.

Important Terms to Know

Controlled Substance:

When referring to a controlled substance, the government means various types of drugs and other substances, or some chemical, or ingredients in chemical makeup that is included in the various controlled schedules (I, II, III, IV, or V).


The DEA places chemicals that make up drugs and classify them into five categories. The categories are based on the chemical’s drug abuse or dependency versus the chemical’s acceptable medical use. Schedule I would have the most potential for abuse and least/no medical value; whereas schedule IV has the least potential for abuse and the most medical value.

This is the basis for the certain drugs being classified as illegal, and also for why some are more punishable than others. The government has made these assessments and have determined that some drugs are worse than others with little to no medical value.


As one might assume, manufacturing means the process of making the controlled substance. It is the preparation and process of the chemistry or method to create a controlled substance.

But there is more…

Manufacturing can also mean the packaging and repackaging or labeling or relabeling of a drug or controlled substance.


This could mean that you are accused of manufacturing because law enforcement alleges that you were prescribed medication and that you then divided up the pills and put them into separate containers to distribute. The same could apply if you received a large amount of cocaine (a brick) and then broke it up to be sold in smaller amounts.

Ways of detection and investigation of manufacturing drugs

Reports from the community

As most are aware, people are curious as what is going on in their community. Often a neighbor will tip law enforcement about suspicious activities. This will encourage law enforcement to conduct surveillance on your home.

Undercover operations

Tips, which are not limited to neighbors, but can also come from drug users, they will result in officers conducting undercover operations. During these operations, there is a lot of illegal activity going on. The undercover officer may handle drugs, purchase drugs, or sell drugs, but you will not know it is them until they make a bust.

Controlled buys

These are where law enforcement recruits a civilian to purchase drugs from you. Generally, it is someone who has purchased drugs from you before, and the buy would seem like a normal exchange. It is unlikely that the arrest would happen right after the purchase.


While there are many ways that an individual can come face to face with law enforcement for manufacturing drugs, one of the unexpected reasons comes from emergency situations. Because the making of drugs involves a lot of chemistry, explosions can happen at any moment.

When there is an explosion, emergency personnel report to the scene and because of the type of explosion and the paraphernalia at the scene law enforcement is able to determine manufacturing was happening at the location.

Methamphetamine labs can come in all sorts of sizes. These sizes would be based on location such as hotel rooms, travel trailers, houses, warehouses. The set up would depend on the amount that you are producing. Regardless, the set up would generally include a chemistry set of some sort.

Shake and Bake Manufacturing

The method of shake and bake to manufacture methamphetamine is what often takes place in cars and bathrooms; practically anywhere.

Without going into the entire details of the method, generally, it is done by putting the ingredients together into a bottle such as a water bottle.

Like explosions, you may be accused of manufacturing in this case because of the type of paraphernalia that is found around you. Your charges could also stem from someone being near and seeing you in the act of manufacturing.

Given the amount of methamphetamine being produced, usually a person who manufactures methamphetamine this way is manufacturing for personal use–however, that does not have to be the case. You may have been accused of manufacturing based on the shake and bake method, the facts relating to your case may provide certain defenses.

Related Charges

If you are being investigated for or charged with, manufacturing drugs, you could also be charged with other crimes or have other lawsuits filed against you.

Related Criminal Charges

  • Trafficking a controlled substance – It could be that law enforcement was investigating you for selling drugs and at the time they came into contact with you they and purchased drugs from you, they also found that you were manufacturing the drugs.
  • Possession with intent to distribute – The reason you may be charged for trafficking is that after manufacturing, the amount of the controlled substance that is found on you, law enforcement assumes that you are planning to sell the product.
  • Possession of a controlled substance – Because what you are alleged to have been manufacturing is a controlled substance, and it was in your possession.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia – This would come from the containers, chemistry sets, or any pipes or needles that may be around.
  • Conspiracy – Because there may have been other people around when you were arrested, law enforcement may also charge you with conspiracy. Additionally, you may not be charged with manufacturing alone.  Instead, it could only be the conspiracy to manufacture drugs.
  • Tampering with evidence – This could come from officers believing that you tried to hide or destroy any of the evidence.
  • Crack House Statute – a statute that prohibits people from opening up their homes for the purpose of using, storing, selling, or manufacturing controlled substances.

Related Civil Charges

  • Wrongful death – if you sold drugs to someone and as a result, they had an overdose
  • Damage – for damages by another individual whose property you may have destroyed or damaged

Criminal Trial

Every accused person in a felony case is guaranteed a trial if they chose to proceed to trial. Depending on the issues of your case, defenses you may have, and plea offers extended your case may or may not go to trial.

Since the government has the burden of proof and they begin to prepare to meet this burden during their initial investigations. Law enforcement may get ahold of you before charging you because they are investigating you or someone close to you. Law enforcement may also question you at the time they have arrested you.

It is important to remember that while you do not have to testify at trial, any statement that you previously made can be introduced at trial. Because of this, it is important that you seek the advice of an attorney when law enforcement contacts you.

The government has the burden of proof. This means they have to prove each of the elements beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not your burden, and you do not have put on a case or testimony. However, ultimately giving testimony will depend on the facts particular to your case which is why it will be important to consult with an experienced defense attorney.

In most cases plea offers are discussed. The facts of your case, any issues in your case, the defenses you may have may be the ultimate factor as to whether your case does or does not receive an offer for a plea. The plea offer you receive will also be determined based on those same factors above and also your criminal history.


The federal government has a punishment table and sentencing scheme for every crime. When it comes to drug crimes, the federal government often looks at various factors. While there is an extensive list of factors.

Factors Considered During Sentencing

The major factors include :

  • the type and schedule of a drug,
  • the quality and potency of the drug, and
  • the amount of drug in relation to the crime that you are charged with.

Depending on the purity of the drug you have been manufacturing your sentencing category may go up or down.

Non-Drug Factors Taking into Consideration

Finally, the federal government takes non-drug factors into consideration such as:

  • whether you provided a drug that caused death or serious bodily injury, and
  • whether violence or weapons were involved and your criminal history.

The federal government’s sentencing table is complicated and takes a lot of factors into consideration. It is very different from most state punishment statutes that give a basic sentence with basic sentence enhancements. Defense attorneys who often deal with this area have the knowledge to give you the best advice.

Defenses To Drug Manufacturing

Fourth amendment

The Fourth Amendment gives you a right to privacy and protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that generally, law enforcement needs a warrant to search certain things. That warrant needs to have probable cause and specificity of what will be searched.

However, there are many exceptions to this protection and sometimes even though you may feel like your rights were violated. Depending on the facts of your case and the acts by law enforcement there may or may not be a violation.

If there is a violation of this protection, there are various ways that they could affect your case. Regardless of the many exceptions, there are times when law enforcement gets it wrong, and maybe they go into your place without a warrant, or maybe the warrant was improperly obtained. These factors and many more may change the outcome of your case.

Fifth and Sixth Amendments

You have probably heard of the Fifth Amendment, it is often depicted on television, and you should hear the words upon your arrest. It provides you your right to remain silent, you have the protection against self-incrimination, and you have the right to consult with an attorney.

The Sixth Amendment is fairly similar to the Fifth Amendment, but applies after charges have been filed and throughout the criminal proceedings stage.

While claims of violations will be based and supported by the facts of your case, the ultimate outcome is not always certain.  However, it is likely that what evidence that was gathered in violation of your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights will be suppressed.

Other Defenses

There may be other defenses available to you. The law is made of many moving parts. A thorough analysis of your case by looking at your facts can create various defenses, even some stronger than others.

Because of the different techniques that are used during narcotics investigations, there are often various issues with the quality and legality of the investigation. Law enforcement has to be considerate of many things such as their goals in conducting the operation, but also should be abiding by the protections that you are given by the constitution.

What Should You Do If You Have Been Charged?

If you have been arrested or you receive a target letter, it is important that you contact a defense attorney right away.

An attorney will tell you whether to give a statement. Because an attorney has a thorough understanding of constitutional rights, they can assess your situation to determine whether have been any violations. An attorney will be able to explain to you the strengths and weaknesses of the charges you are facing.

Call Us Now!

While this article did not cover every single aspect to the charge of manufacturing drugs, especially since every case comes with different facts and issues, we hope that this article gave you a better understanding involved in the federal manufacturing drugs charge.

If you have any further questions or concerns, it is likely because this article was meant to give you a general overview and understanding of this area of law. If you need those questions or concerns answered, please consult with a criminal defense attorney.