Drug mandatory minimum penalties applied more broadly than Congress admitted
" While some legislative history leading up to passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 suggests that “major” traffickers would be subject to the ten-year drug mandatory minimum penalty and “serious” traffickers would be subject to the five-year penalty, they often apply to offenders who perform relatively low level functions. For example, nearly one-third (32.2%) of Couriers and more than one-quarter of Mules (25.4%) were convicted of such offenses.
" While the rate of conviction for an offense carrying a drug mandatory minimum penalty tended to decrease with the culpability level of the offender as reflected by their function, a significant percentage of offenders in every function were nevertheless convicted of such offenses. In fact, a majority of offenders in seven of the ten function categories (including some lower-level functions) were convicted of an offense carrying a drug mandatory minimum penalty.
" Many of the offenders convicted of an offense carrying a drug mandatory minimum penalty had little or no criminal history. Almost half (45.9%) were in Criminal History Category I 37.7 percent of all offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum received no criminal history points under the guidelines, while 8.1 percent received one criminal history point. On the other end of the spectrum, 14.2 percent of all offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty were in Criminal History Category VI."
"Mandatory Minimum Penalties for Drug Offenses in the Federal Criminal Justice System," US Sentencing Commission, October 2017.