The number of Federal cases involving drug offenders and the sanctions against them increased dramatically between 1980-1986. There was a higher filing rate for such offenders than for all other crime categories. Among such defendants, 87 percent were alleged to have distributed or manufactured drugs illegally, 9 percent were charged with importing drugs into the country, and 4 percent were suspected of illegal possession without intent to distribute. The increase in convictions for those charged with drug offenses accounted for 51 percent of the increase in all Federal convictions during 1980-86. Drug offenders sentenced to maximum prison terms of 1 year or more served an average of 3 years and 3 months in prison (59 percent of their sentenced terms). Within 3 years of their first release from prison, 7 percent of drug offenders had been returned to prison, compared to 13 percent of offenders charged with violent crimes and 12 percent of property offenders. 14 tables.