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This is an NDIC product.

 

National Drug Intelligence Center.

  

Title:

Massachusetts Drug Threat Assessment

Massachusetts Drug Threat Assessment.Publication Date:  April 2001

Document ID: 2001-S0377MA-001 

Available Massachusetts Assessments:
  2003 Update: May 2003
  2002 Update: April 2002
        
Original: April 2001

Archived on:  January 1, 2006. This document may contain dated information. It remains available to provide access to historical materials.

This report is a strategic assessment that addresses the status and outlook of the drug threat in Massachusetts. Analytical judgment determined the threat posed by each drug type or category, taking into account the most current quantitative and qualitative information on availability, demand, production or cultivation, transportation, and distribution, as well as the effects of a particular drug on abusers and society as a whole. While NDIC sought to incorporate the latest available information, a time lag often exists between collection and publication of data, particularly demand-related data sets. NDIC anticipates that this drug threat assessment will be useful to policymakers, law enforcement personnel, and treatment providers at the federal, state, and local levels because it draws upon a broad range of information sources to describe and analyze the drug threat in Massachusetts.

Your questions, comments, and suggestions for future subjects are welcome at any time.  Addresses are provided at the end of the page.

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Contents  

Executive Summary

Overview 
 
Fast Facts

Heroin 
  Abuse 
  Availability 
  Violence 
  Production 
  Transportation 
  Distribution 

Cocaine 
  Abuse 
  Availability 
  Violence 
  Production 
  Transportation 
  Distribution 

Marijuana 
  Abuse 
  Availability
  Violence 
  Production 
  Transportation 
  Distribution 

Other Dangerous Drugs 
  Abuse 
  Availability 
  Violence 
  Production 
  Transportation 
  Distribution 

 

Methamphetamine 
  Abuse 
  Availability 
  Violence 
  Production 
  Transportation 
  Distribution 

Outlook 

Sources


List of Figures 

Chart 1. Emergency Department Mentions, Boston 1990-1998
Chart 2. Massachusetts High School Student Drug Use
Chart 3. Boston High School Student Drug Use

List of Tables 

Table 1. Cocaine Price and Purity, Massachusetts
Table 2. Marijuana Prices, Massachusetts
Table 3. Diverted Pharmaceuticals and ODD Prices, Massachusetts, 1999


Executive Summary

Illegal drugs pose a significant threat to the safety and security of Massachusetts' citizens, and the problem does not appear to be improving. Treatment providers and law enforcement officers regard heroin and powdered and crack cocaine as the most serious drug threats in the state because of their highly addictive nature and their strong association with violent crime. Cocaine has long been the primary drug threat in the state, and law enforcement authorities in counties with fewer than 500,000 people continue to identify cocaine, particularly crack, as their greatest drug threat. However, in more populated counties, heroin's popularity has surpassed that of cocaine because of a dramatic rise in heroin's purity and a substantial drop in its price. During 2001, heroin and cocaine are expected to remain the most serious drug threats in the state.

Colombian and Dominican drug trafficking organizations dominate heroin and cocaine markets in Massachusetts and supply most of the largest and most violent drug distribution groups in the state. Organizations in New York City supply most of the heroin and cocaine in Massachusetts, but the drugs often are shipped through the Greater Boston area, Providence, Hartford, Worcester, or Springfield/Holyoke en route to locations throughout Massachusetts. Proximity determines where the state's wholesalers and retailers go for their drug supply: distributors will travel to New York City or any of the five regional distribution centers, whichever is closest, to obtain heroin and cocaine. The Greater Boston area--including the nearby cities of Lawrence, Lowell, and Lynn--is Massachusetts' primary regional distribution center, and Worcester and Springfield/Holyoke are secondary distribution centers. Lawrence and Lowell are also transshipment points for heroin and cocaine being moved to northern New England and Canada. Many law enforcement officials have concluded that cocaine and heroin operations in Massachusetts can best be disrupted or dismantled by targeting Colombian wholesalers in New York City or Boston, and can be substantially disrupted by targeting Dominican wholesalers in New York City, Greater Boston, Worcester, and Springfield/Holyoke.

Most heroin and cocaine are transported to Massachusetts in privately owned, borrowed, and leased vehicles or by way of public transportation along Interstate 95 and other major highways. Some shipments are brought to Massachusetts by couriers traveling on commercial air flights into Boston or smaller domestic airports near Springfield, Worcester, and New Bedford. Heroin and cocaine are probably shipped into Massachusetts by maritime means as well, via the major port of Boston and possibly the smaller ports of Fall River, Salem, New Bedford, and Gloucester.

Marijuana use is rampant in Massachusetts, but treatment providers and law enforcement officers generally regard the drug as a lower threat than heroin or cocaine because marijuana users do not often seek treatment for marijuana substance abuse or commit violent crimes. Caucasian and Jamaican drug trafficking organizations are involved extensively in the wholesale marijuana trade in Massachusetts, and they arrange transportation of the drug into the state. Mexican marijuana is the most common, and shipments generally are transported to Massachusetts from locations in the U.S. West and Southwest. Most marijuana is shipped overland in vehicles, although significant amounts are sent by mail. The marijuana threat in Massachusetts is expected to remain lower than the heroin and cocaine threats in 2001, but the market for marijuana is likely to remain strong.

The abuse of Other Dangerous Drugs, particularly MDMA (aka "ecstasy"), has increased in Massachusetts. Law enforcement authorities in all counties with more than 500,000 people, with the exception of Bristol County, reported MDMA as a problem in 1999, and federal reporting indicates MDMA use was increasing in the less populous counties in 2000. In 2001, the MDMA threat in Massachusetts is likely to increase slowly in established and new markets. Other "club drugs" such as GHB and GBL have risen in popularity among adolescents and young adults since 1999. Diverted pharmaceutical drugs--including various forms of stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and steroids--also are readily available in the state.

Methamphetamine production and use are not significant threats in Massachusetts. Few methamphetamine laboratories have been identified and seized in the state, and those few were capable of producing only very small quantities of methamphetamine. The Hells Angels and Outlaws motorcycle gangs have distributed minor amounts of methamphetamine in the state for many years, and street gangs are now involved in local and interstate methamphetamine trafficking as well. Transporters ship most methamphetamine into Massachusetts from the U.S. West and Southwest using mail services. Over the next year, methamphetamine production, transportation, distribution, and use are not expected to present a serious threat in Massachusetts.

To better address the drug situation in Massachusetts, a comprehensive assessment of the ethnic criminal drug threats that are present and significant is needed, with attention given to the command-and-control relationships that exist among the various drug trafficking contingents. Analysis should concentrate on strategic vulnerabilities that policymakers and operators can attack to disrupt or dismantle those threats. Authorities in Massachusetts have identified this issue as an intelligence gap.


 

Addresses

National Drug Intelligence Center
319 Washington Street, 5th Floor
Johnstown, PA 15901

Tel. (814) 532-4601
FAX (814) 532-4690
E-mail
NDIC.Contacts@usdoj.gov

National Drug Intelligence Center
8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1001
McLean, VA 22102-3840

Tel. (703) 556-8970
FAX (703) 556-7807

 

Web Addresses

ADNET:  http://ndicosa 
      DOJ:  http://www.usdoj.gov/archive/ndic/
      LEO:  home.leo.gov/lesig/ndic 

    


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