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National Drug Intelligence Center
Connecticut Drug Threat Assessment
Marijuana is the most widely available and commonly abused drug in Connecticut. However, the drug poses a lower threat than cocaine or heroin because marijuana abusers and distributors usually do not commit violent crimes and because the drug's effects are generally less debilitating than those associated with other illicit drugs. Connecticut has had fewer treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities for marijuana abuse than for heroin or cocaine abuse; however, the number of treatment admissions is increasing. Most of the marijuana available in Connecticut is Mexico-produced or produced by Mexican criminal groups in Arizona, southern California, and Texas. Cannabis also is cultivated indoors and outdoors in Connecticut. Caucasian, Colombian, Dominican, Jamaican, Mexican, and other Hispanic criminal groups and members of Italian Organized Crime are the dominant transporters of marijuana into Connecticut. They usually transport marijuana into Connecticut in tractor-trailers. Caucasian, Jamaican, and Mexican criminal groups and Connecticut-based local independent dealers are the dominant wholesale distributors of marijuana. African American, Caucasian, Dominican, and other Hispanic criminal groups, street gangs, and local independent dealers are the dominant retail distributors.
Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug in Connecticut. According to the 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 5.2 percent of Connecticut residents surveyed reported having abused marijuana in the past month compared with 4.7 percent nationwide. More Connecticut residents reported abusing marijuana than any other drug.
According to TEDS data, the number of marijuana-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities in Connecticut has increased annually from 1,986 in 1994 to 3,645 in 1999 but consistently was lower than the number for heroin and cocaine during that 6-year period. (See Table 1 in Overview section.) In 1999 Connecticut ranked nineteenth in the nation for the rate of marijuana-related treatment admissions (134) per 100,000 population. According to the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, individuals aged 18 to 29 accounted for the highest percentage (17.4%) of marijuana-related treatment admissions in 1999. In 2000 Caucasians accounted for most marijuana-related treatment admissions (39.4%), followed by African Americans (37.8%) and Hispanics (19.4%). Males accounted for 78.5 percent of all marijuana-related treatment admissions.
Many high school students in Connecticut have reported abusing marijuana, and many believe that the drug poses fewer risks than heroin, cocaine, or LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). According to the Governor's Prevention Initiative for Youth 2000 Student Survey, the percentage of ninth and tenth grade males who reported using marijuana in the 30 days prior to the survey decreased, from 29.9 percent in 1997 to 24.9 percent in 2000. The percentage of ninth and tenth grade females also decreased, from 23.9 percent in 1997 to 18.9 percent in 2000. Additionally, 21.5 percent of ninth and tenth grade students surveyed reported that abusing marijuana was only "a little bit wrong," and 12.0 percent report it was "not wrong at all."
Marijuana, produced primarily in Mexico, Arizona, southern California, and Texas, is the most widely available illicit drug in Connecticut. Locally produced marijuana also is available. Marijuana prices are stable in Connecticut. According to DEA, marijuana sold for $160 per ounce in Bridgeport, $75 to $100 per ounce in Hartford, and $100 per ounce in New Haven in the first quarter of FY2002. Marijuana sold for $600 to $1,000 per pound in Bridgeport, $800 to $1,500 per pound in Hartford, and $1,000 to $1,300 per pound in New Haven. Sinsemilla sold for $1,000 to $6,000 per pound in Bridgeport and $3,500 per pound in New Haven in the first quarter of FY2002.
Seizure data indicate that marijuana is readily available in Connecticut. Law enforcement officials seized more marijuana than any other drug in Connecticut between FY1995 and FY2000. According to FDSS data, federal law enforcement officials seized 437.6 kilograms of marijuana in FY1998, 112.2 kilograms in FY1999, and 280.4 kilograms in FY2000. The Statewide Narcotics Task Force seized 932.6 kilograms of marijuana in FY1997; 1,649.2 in FY1998; 1,379.5 in FY1999; and 2,947.4 in FY2000, accounting for over 83 percent of all drugs seized in FY2000.
The percentage of federal drug sentences that were marijuana-related in Connecticut was much lower than the national percentage in FY2000. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 2.3 percent of drug-related federal sentences in Connecticut in FY2000 were marijuana-related compared with 31.2 percent nationwide.
Three of the 14 OCDETF investigations in Connecticut from October 1999 to October 2001 were marijuana-related. OCDETF investigations often involve more than one illegal drug.
Although marijuana abusers generally do not commit violent crimes, the distribution of marijuana occasionally is associated with violent crime in Connecticut. Most violent crime associated with marijuana distribution in the state occurs between rival criminal groups and gangs. Some marijuana distributors commit violent crimes to protect or expand their markets. Law enforcement officials arrested two males in Connecticut in 1998 for killing a female Jamaican flight attendant and stealing 29 pounds of marijuana that she had stored in her home.
Most of the marijuana available in Connecticut is produced by Mexican criminal groups in Mexico or in Arizona, southern California, and Texas. Some local independent dealers and abusers cultivate cannabis for personal use and distribution.
Local law enforcement officials have seized cannabis plots ranging from small grows intended for personal use to large grows containing hundreds of plants. Indoor grows are more common in urban areas, and outdoor grows are more common in rural areas. Outdoor cannabis plots usually are found in forests, on public land, intermingled with crops such as corn, or in vegetable gardens. The Statewide Narcotics Task Force has reported an increasing number of outdoor plot seizures and a decreasing number of indoor plot seizures since 1996.
Outdoor cannabis grows are seized primarily in the northwestern and eastern areas of the state. Law enforcement officials in Waterbury detected two large outdoor grows in 1999 by aerial surveillance. They seized 580 cannabis plants from one grow and 730 cannabis plants from the other.
Caucasian, Colombian, Dominican, Jamaican, Mexican, and other Hispanic criminal groups and members of Italian Organized Crime are the primary transporters of marijuana into Connecticut. They coordinate marijuana shipments with domestic and international marijuana suppliers and usually transport wholesale quantities in tractor-trailers from Mexico and southwestern states into Connecticut. Some of the Mexico-produced marijuana and marijuana produced in Arizona, southern California, and Texas is transshipped through New York City and then transported into Connecticut in leased or private vehicles.
Multikilogram and multihundred-kilogram shipments of marijuana typically are transported in private vehicles and commercial trucks. Federal law enforcement investigations indicate that a Mexican criminal group transported 10 to 30 tons of marijuana from southern California into Connecticut inside tires and hidden compartments in sport utility vehicles in 1999. Jamaican criminal groups in Hartford reportedly transported over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana inside tractor-trailers from Texas to Connecticut over several years. According to Operation Pipeline data, law enforcement officials in Iowa seized 449.1 kilograms of marijuana from a Ford truck with a New York license in October 2000. The marijuana was intended for distribution in Bridgeport.
Bulk shipments of marijuana sometimes are transported from Connecticut to Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. In October 2001 law enforcement officials arrested a 33-year-old female from Granby for transporting over 30 pounds of marijuana to New Hampshire from Connecticut and seized another 8 pounds of marijuana from her home.
Smaller quantities of marijuana typically are transported into Connecticut using package delivery services. According to Operation Jetway data, in 2000 law enforcement officials seized 13 packages of marijuana totaling 78.94 kilograms that were shipped from Arizona and California to Hartford using package delivery services. The largest single seizure of this kind was 14.97 kilograms.
Transporters frequently send and receive marijuana using package delivery services because they can use the Internet to track the package. If the package is delayed, it may indicate that law enforcement agencies have intercepted the package and may attempt a controlled delivery. When the recipients notice a delay in package delivery, they often abandon the package.
Marijuana occasionally is hidden in luggage and transported by couriers into Connecticut on commercial airline flights. On July 28, 2000, DEA seized 16.33 kilograms of marijuana hidden in a commercial airline passenger's luggage. The courier had flown on a commercial aircraft from Ontario, California, to Connecticut.
Caucasian, Jamaican, and Mexican criminal groups and Connecticut-based local independent dealers are the dominant wholesale distributors of marijuana. These groups usually purchase Mexico-produced marijuana or marijuana produced in California and southwestern states from Jamaican, Mexican, and other criminal groups in New York City. Local independent dealers distribute locally produced marijuana in Connecticut.
African American, Caucasian, Dominican, and other Hispanic criminal groups, street gangs, and local independent dealers are the dominant retail distributors of marijuana in Connecticut. According to responses to the NDIC National Gang Survey 2000, Latin Kings and Ņeta distribute marijuana in cities such as Danbury, Hartford, New Haven, and New London. Many street gangs that distribute marijuana also distribute cocaine and heroin. Law enforcement authorities in Meriden and New Britain report that most gangs in their areas sell marijuana.
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