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Indiana Drug Threat Assessment
Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant that affects the central nervous system, causing body functions to accelerate. Some short-term effects include hallucinations, violent and aggressive behavior, and paranoia; long-term effects include those mentioned as well as depression. Mexican DTOs transport most methamphetamine to Indiana from California and other Southwest Border states. Methamphetamine production and abuse are expanding from southern Illinois into primarily rural counties in southwestern Indiana. Although the threat posed by methamphetamine is not as great as that posed by crack cocaine, the substantial increase in the number of methamphetamine laboratory seizures in Indiana indicates a growing problem that may rival crack cocaine in the future. Methamphetamine production causes serious safety and environmental concerns.
Methamphetamine abuse is increasing in Indiana, particularly in Evansville, Terre Haute, and other southwestern areas. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District reports that methamphetamine abuse is spreading from rural to more urban areas like Indianapolis. Fifty percent of the drug overdoses in the Lake County HIDTA area of responsibility involved methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine abuse is spread among different user groups. Some people begin using methamphetamine to lose weight, while others use it recreationally to stay energized at rave parties. Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network (MAGLOCLEN) member agencies cite a correlation between methamphetamine use and people in certain occupations, reporting high methamphetamine use among service and shift workers such as cocktail waitresses, exotic dancers, truck drivers, and trade workers. A typical methamphetamine user within the MAGLOCLEN jurisdiction is a Caucasian male, between the ages of 25 and 40, with a low to moderate income. While health officials consider methamphetamine to be a drug used mostly by adult middle-class, blue-collar Caucasians, its popularity is increasing among young people. MAGLOCLEN members report that young people are attracted to methamphetamine because they feel the drug causes heightened physical and mental performance.
Methamphetamine abuse among teens in rural areas is increasing. A privately funded study conducted by the Rural Indiana Profile reports that eighth graders in rural settings are 108 percent more likely to use methamphetamine than eighth graders in urban areas. The study also reports that teens have greater access to methamphetamine than do other age groups. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reports that lifetime methamphetamine use among twelfth graders rose nearly 6 percent in 1998. In 1992, 62 percent of twelfth graders believed trying methamphetamine once or twice posed a great risk, compared with only 53 percent in 1998
Methamphetamine availability is increasing as evidenced by increasing production, distribution, and consumption, especially in southwestern Indiana. The DEA Chicago Field Division indicates that methamphetamine is readily available--significantly more so than in 1998--particularly in southwestern Indiana along the Illinois border. DEA also reports a marked increase in laboratory seizures. After studying the popularity of methamphetamine in states such as Missouri, where abuse is increasing and spreading through southern Illinois into southwestern Indiana, Indiana State Police and drug experts are predicting a continuing escalation of methamphetamine availability throughout Indiana. For example, the February 2000 arrest of a rural Hendricks County man for operating a methamphetamine laboratory was the third such arrest in the Metro West area in nearly a month and marked the fifty-fifth laboratory shut down by Indiana State Police in 2000. Seventy-nine percent of those responding to the MAGLOCLEN Methamphetamine Activity Report indicate that methamphetamine availability is increasing.
The DEA Merrillville Resident Office reports that methamphetamine availability in northwestern Indiana is increasing, specifically noting an increase in methamphetamine demand. Merrillville officials believe that availability will continue to increase and become a widespread problem. The Indianapolis Police Department also reports a significant increase in methamphetamine availability. All Indiana law enforcement officials responding to the 2000 National Drug Threat Survey, as well as the Marion, Delaware, and Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Departments, report an increase in methamphetamine-related investigations, arrests, and seizures in 1999. The Fort Wayne Police Department seized more than 1,400 grams of methamphetamine in 1999, an increase over 1998 figures, and the Vigo County Drug Task Force reports that methamphetamine laboratory seizures rose from 0 in 1998, to 26 in 1999, to 40 as of July 2000. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, arrests for methamphetamine offenses in Indiana rose 81 percent from 16 in 1995 to 29 in 1998
Methamphetamine prices decreased from $1,420 per ounce in 1995 to $1,265 in 1999, indicating increased availability. Overall, purity reached a 4-year low in 1999 most likely because of an increase in the availability of low purity--under 10 percent--Mexican-produced methamphetamine.
The potential for methamphetamine-related violence in Indiana exists. Methamphetamine users can be violent and can endanger themselves and those around them, especially when they enter the tweaking stage. Tweaking occurs at the end of a binge when nothing, not even additional methamphetamine, will relieve the users' feelings of emptiness and "dysphoria." The tweaking stage is very uncomfortable for users--who often take depressants to ease the unpleasant feelings--and they often are irritable and prone to unpredictable behavior. The Evansville Police Department links the increase in violent acts and crimes in 1999 to methamphetamine abuse.
Methamphetamine production is increasing, especially in rural areas. The Indiana State Police Clandestine Laboratory Entry Team seized 128 methamphetamine laboratories in 1999 and 427 laboratories in 2000. Although the Indiana State Police have discovered laboratories in Angola and Elkhart in northern Indiana, most methamphetamine laboratories seized have been in rural farming areas south of I-70 and west of I-65, particularly along the corridor from Evansville to Bloomington. In Hazleton, an Indiana State Trooper smelled anhydrous ammonia and tracked the odor to an open garage where investigating officers found other chemicals used in methamphetamine production as well as the anhydrous ammonia. The Vigo Country Drug Task Force in Terre Haute reports that 80 percent of the methamphetamine produced in the area is used locally. The South Central Narcotics Task Force also reports that most of the methamphetamine sold in its area is produced locally.
Methamphetamine Laboratory Seizures in Indiana
An associated problem, occurring mostly in rural areas, is the increased theft of anhydrous ammonia--a key ingredient in the Nazi method of methamphetamine production--from farm cooperatives throughout the state, especially in Vigo County. The Nazi method is the production method used primarily in rural areas such as Vigo and Vanderburgh Counties and in the South Central Narcotics Task Force's jurisdiction; agencies in all of these areas report increases in anhydrous ammonia thefts. A Vigo County detective reports that independent methamphetamine producers are stealing and using anhydrous ammonia not only to produce their own methamphetamine, but also to sell--at $500 per gallon--to other producers. State Police are asking farmers to watch for thefts of anhydrous ammonia; however, the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department reports an increase in the number of farmers selling the chemical for profit. The former manager of a Montgomery County grain elevator faced charges that he provided anhydrous ammonia to a major production operation from late 1999 to March 2000. The Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department reports that methamphetamine producers use fire extinguishers, PVC pipes, and jugs to store anhydrous ammonia and that they set up "box labs" in coolers, boxes, or other containers in the trunks of cars, in the beds of trucks, and in barns.
Indiana officials report that methamphetamine also is produced in urban areas, posing heightened safety concerns because of the proximity of laboratories to the public. The Evansville Police Department reports an increase in methamphetamine laboratory seizures. In one instance, a Pike County probation officer and an Indiana State Police Trooper found ether, lithium strips, drug paraphernalia, a generator, and a small amount of methamphetamine in an Evansville home. According to police, the generator was used to produce hydrogen gas, which is a part of the methamphetamine production process. In Decatur, a man was arrested after police found a methamphetamine laboratory in his home; an environmental cleanup crew was required to remove the hazardous material. A multiagency task force raided two Lebanon, Indiana, homes and shut down a methamphetamine laboratory that police said was used to produce most of that city's drug supply. Throughout Terre Haute, methamphetamine laboratories have been found in apartments, basements, houses, and cars and trucks.
Local independent groups, primarily Caucasian males using the Nazi and ephedrine reduction production methods, are the primary methamphetamine producers, according to Indiana respondents to the 2000 National Drug Threat Survey. The South Central Narcotics Task Force reports that the primary producers are Caucasian males between the ages of 20 and 30, while the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department identifies local independents as the primary methamphetamine producers. Methamphetamine recipes available on the Internet, by word of mouth, and from out-of-state producers, have increased local independent production. Easy access to precursor chemicals makes multiple methods of methamphetamine production possible.
OMGs also produce limited amounts of methamphetamine. Although Indiana respondents to the MAGLOCLEN survey report an increase in the number of independent methamphetamine producers, OMGs remain active in methamphetamine production and distribution, controlling 14 percent of the methamphetamine produced in the Middle-Atlantic/Great Lakes region. Methamphetamine producers working for OMGs typically produce 5 to 10 pounds of methamphetamine per production cycle using the P2P method. The Lake County HIDTA reports that OMGs control a large portion of the methamphetamine produced in its area. A DEA Phoenix Field Division investigation led to the identification of a large-scale, OMG-related methamphetamine production operation in Phoenix and Indianapolis. The methamphetamine was produced in Arizona and shipped to Indianapolis for distribution throughout the Midwest. A 1999 OCDETF investigation uncovered an organization that produced and distributed methamphetamine in the Southern District of Indiana. Members of the organization obtained precursor chemicals from California and traded them for car and motorcycle parts.
Mexican DTOs control most of the methamphetamine production laboratories throughout Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico and dominate methamphetamine transportation in Indiana and the Midwest. Most of the Indiana respondents to the 2000 National Drug Threat Survey report that Mexican DTOs are the primary methamphetamine transporters in their areas, including the Evansville Police and Allen County Sheriff's Departments, the latter of which identifies California and Texas as major methamphetamine source areas. The Indianapolis Police Department reports that Hispanic organizations are the predominant methamphetamine transporters in its jurisdiction. Three 1999 OCDETF investigations uncovered methamphetamine transportation organizations that shipped large quantities of methamphetamine from the Southwest Border to Indiana.
Independent dealers and to a lesser extent OMGs transport methamphetamine primarily obtained from California to Indiana. The Evansville and South Bend Police Departments as well as the Delaware County Sheriff's Department report that local independent dealers are the primary methamphetamine transporters in their areas. In 2000, a California man pleaded guilty to transporting 80 pounds of methamphetamine from California to Cynthiana, Indiana, for distribution in the Evansville area. Most Indiana respondents to the 2000 National Drug Threat Survey report that local independent dealers as well as OMGs transport methamphetamine to Indiana. A Vigo County Drug Task Force detective reports that the Diablos and Sons of Silence OMGs are the primary methamphetamine transporters in its area and that the gangs ship the drug from the Southwest Border. The Lake County HIDTA reports that OMGs are involved in transporting methamphetamine into its area. A Phoenix DEA investigation identified a large-scale, OMG-related methamphetamine laboratory operation in Phoenix and Indianapolis. The methamphetamine was produced in Arizona and shipped to Indianapolis for further distribution in the Midwest.
Methamphetamine transporters primarily use private vehicles, but they also use utility trucks, tractor-trailers, parcel delivery services, and airplanes to ship the drug to Indiana. The Indianapolis Police Department reports that transporters primarily use private vehicles with hidden compartments to ship methamphetamine from Los Angeles, although the department also reports an increase in criminal groups using parcel delivery services to ship methamphetamine into the area. The Evansville Police Department reports that Redding and Riverside, California, are methamphetamine source areas and that transporters use private vehicles, parcel delivery services, and aircraft to transport methamphetamine. For example, a Texas man was arrested in Knox County, Indiana, after police found $96,000 worth of methamphetamine taped to the underside of the steering column of his car. He was traveling along U.S. Routes 50 and 41.
Mexican DTOs are the primary methamphetamine wholesalers in Indiana. The DEA, Lake County HIDTA, and local law enforcement officials report that Mexican DTOs distribute cocaine, marijuana, and heroin in Indiana and use the same distribution networks to facilitate wholesale methamphetamine distribution. The Evansville and Fort Wayne Police Departments as well as the Vigo County Drug Task Force report that Mexican organizations are the primary methamphetamine wholesalers in their areas. The Fort Wayne Police Department further notes that all of its methamphetamine investigations identified a connection to Mexican DTOs.
Local independent dealers and the Outlaws Motorcycle Club are also methamphetamine wholesale distributors, especially in the Evansville and Terre Haute areas. Local independent dealers are primarily Caucasian males in their twenties. The Vanderburgh and Vigo County Sheriff's Departments and the Evansville Police Department report that local independent dealers, mostly Caucasian males, are the primary methamphetamine wholesalers in their areas. The MAGLOCLEN methamphetamine report states that OMGs distribute methamphetamine throughout the Richmond and Evansville areas, as well as in areas north and east of Fort Wayne. The Outlaws Motorcycle Club, the primary wholesale distributor of methamphetamine in the Fort Wayne Police Department's and Lake County HIDTA's areas of responsibility, most likely uses "puppet clubs" to conduct retail operations to insulate the gang from possible criminal liability. The Vigo County Drug Task Force reports that the Diablos motorcycle gang, a suspected puppet club of the Outlaws gang, and the Sons of Silence motorcycle gang are the main methamphetamine wholesalers in its jurisdiction.
Local independent dealers are the primary methamphetamine retailers in Indiana. Most of the Indiana respondents to the 2000 National Drug Threat Survey report that local independent dealers control most methamphetamine retail operations. The Vanderburgh and Delaware County Sheriff's Departments and the South Bend, Evansville, and Owensboro Police Departments report that local independent dealers, primarily Caucasian males, are the main methamphetamine retailers in their areas. The Vigo and Madison County Drug Task Forces report that Caucasian males in their early twenties control most methamphetamine retail operations in their areas. The South Central Narcotics Task Force reports that Caucasian males are the primary methamphetamine retailers, predominantly in rural areas.
Law enforcement officials, including the Fort Wayne Police Department, report that Mexican criminal groups and OMGs also retail methamphetamine. The Evansville Police Department reports that Mexican DTOs are the primary retailers in its area. The MAGLOCLEN Methamphetamine Activity Report indicates that OMGs distribute methamphetamine throughout the Richmond and Evansville areas, as well as north and east of Fort Wayne. The Lake County HIDTA reports that OMGs are involved in retailing methamphetamine in its area.
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