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To Home Page. National Drug Intelligence Center
Connecticut Drug Threat Assessment
July 2002



Map of Connecticut.

Note: This map displays features mentioned in the report.


Connecticut, the nation's third smallest state, covers 4,845 square miles. It has 3.4 million residents, making it the fourth most densely populated state. Most of the state's population is concentrated along the coast in Bridgeport, New Haven, and Stamford and in the center of the state in Hartford (the state capital) and Waterbury. Each of these cities has a population between 100,000 and 150,000, and these urban areas are more ethnically diverse than the rest of the state. The state's population is 77.5 percent Caucasian, 9.4 percent Hispanic or Latino, 9.1 percent African American, 2.4 percent Asian, and the remainder is American Indian or other races. The ethnic diversity of the state's urban areas provides the opportunity for drug distributors of various races or ethnicities to blend with the resident population.

Fast Facts
Population (2000) 3,405,565
U.S. population ranking 29th
Median household income (2000) $51,432
Unemployment rate (2001) 3.6%
Land area 4,845 square miles
Shoreline 618 miles
Capital Hartford
Other principal cities Bridgeport, New Haven, New London, Stamford, Waterbury
Number of counties 8
Principal industries Agriculture, manufacturing, tourism

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Located between the drug distribution centers of New York City and Boston, Connecticut is an important transit and destination area for drugs. Interstate 95, the major north-south route on the East Coast, extends along Connecticut's southern shore through Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London; it connects New York City with Boston and continues to the U.S.-Canada border. Interstate 91 extends from New Haven north to Massachusetts, Vermont, and the U.S.-Canada border. These interstates intersect in New Haven and form what is known by law enforcement as the New England Pipeline. Frequently, drugs are transported through Connecticut between New York City and Boston along I-95 and into Massachusetts and Vermont along I-91. Additionally, I-395, a north-south route through eastern Connecticut, connects I-95 and I-90, the Massachusetts Turnpike. Interstate 84 extends from Pennsylvania through New York into southwestern Connecticut and the cities of Danbury, Waterbury, and Hartford and connects to I-90 in Massachusetts.

Drugs, particularly cocaine, heroin, and MDMA, occasionally are smuggled directly into the state's airports. Bradley International Airport is the only international airport in Connecticut. Passenger volume at this airport has increased dramatically since the mid-1990s. In 2000, 7.3 million passengers arrived at or departed from Bradley International Airport, a 20 percent increase from 1999. Over 189,000 tons of cargo were shipped through Bradley International Airport in 2000. Numerous commercial airlines offer domestic flights to Bradley International Airport from many U.S. cities, including some in the southwest, as well as direct or connecting international flights from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico, and the Netherlands. Daily flights to Bradley International Airport from Logan International Airport in Boston and John F. Kennedy (JFK) International in New York City also are available. Drugs commonly are transported by bodycarriers, by couriers who conceal drugs in luggage, or via package delivery services. Cocaine also is reportedly transported to smaller commercial airports including Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Tweed-New Haven Airport in New Haven, and Groton-New London Airport in New London, as well as to private airfields throughout the state; however, no seizures have been made at these locations.

Connecticut's three major seaports--Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London--are connected by I-95, the primary route used to transport drugs to and from New York City. According to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, Bridgeport is the largest port in the state; shipments of fruit and containerized cargo arrive frequently from various overseas destinations, including Colombia. Bananas are shipped weekly in cargo vessels from South America to Bridgeport, and federal law enforcement officials occasionally have seized cocaine from these vessels.

Numerous bus services and an extensive commuter rail system provide ample opportunities to transport heroin, cocaine, and other drugs into and through the state from New York City and other areas. Commuter trains and buses provide over 200 daily scheduled runs between Connecticut and New York City, and bus services carry passengers throughout Connecticut. Servicing over 33 million passengers annually, rail lines extend from New Haven to New York City with stops at Bridgeport and Stamford. Rail lines also extend from New Haven to New London. Additionally, high-speed trains operate between Boston and New York City with several stops in Connecticut including New London, New Haven, Bridgeport, and Stamford. Another commuter rail line extends from New Haven to Hartford to Springfield, Massachusetts.

Transporters frequently send and receive drugs via 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 it and may attempt a controlled delivery. When the recipients notice a delay in package delivery, they often abandon the package.

Connecticut-based African American, Dominican, Jamaican, Puerto Rican, and other Hispanic criminal groups usually purchase wholesale quantities of cocaine and heroin from New York City-based Colombian and Dominican criminal groups. The wholesale quantities are packaged into smaller quantities and sold to other criminal groups for retail distribution. Caucasian, Jamaican, and Mexican criminal groups based in Connecticut usually purchase wholesale quantities of marijuana from Caucasian, Colombian, Dominican, Jamaican, Mexican, other Hispanic criminal groups, and members of Italian Organized Crime. These groups are the dominant marijuana transporters; they use tractor-trailers to transport the drug from Mexico and from states in the west and southwest. Teenagers and young adults are the primary other dangerous drug (ODD) distributors in the state. Caucasian independent dealers distribute the limited quantity of methamphetamine available in the state.

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Organized street gangs distribute drugs at the retail level in Connecticut. Some gangs, such as Latin Kings, are nationally affiliated, and others, such as 20 Luv, have no national affiliation. The most significant gangs distributing drugs in Hartford are Latin Kings, Los Solidos, Ñeta, and 20 Luv. Local law enforcement officials report that Latin Kings distribute drugs in New London, New Britain, Meriden, and Danbury. Los Solidos, Ñeta, and 20 Luv distribute drugs in Meriden, and law enforcement officials in New London report that Ñeta members distribute drugs in their jurisdiction. In addition to these established gangs, new gangs are forming, and other gangs such as New York City-based Bloods are expanding into Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Southeastern Gang Activities Group. The Asian gangs Born to Kill, Cambodian Crips, Exotic Foreign Cambodian Crips (EFCC), Fuk Ching, and United Bamboo Gang have recently established chapters in Connecticut and are known to distribute drugs. These Asian gangs are considered the fastest growing gangs in the state.

Gangs that Distribute Drugs in Connecticut

Latin Kings, also known as Almighty Latin Kings Charter Nation, is a predominantly Hispanic street and prison gang with two major factions: one in Chicago and one in the northeastern United States. These gangs started as social groups in Hispanic communities but later evolved into criminal groups that distribute drugs and commit violent crimes. Latin Kings is a highly structured gang that relies on strict, detailed charters to maintain discipline. Chicago-based Latin Kings, affiliated with People Nation, is the foundation for all other Latin Kings gangs. The gang has expanded throughout the nation, including into Connecticut. Northeast-based Latin Kings started in the Connecticut state prison system in the late 1980s as an offshoot of the Chicago-based Latin Kings. Connecticut has over 200 Latin Kings members in the Hartford area. Latin Kings has attempted to consolidate the two factions.

Los Solidos is composed mostly of Hispanic males with some African American and Caucasian members. Los Solidos formed in the early 1990s from two Connecticut-based street gangs: Ghetto Brothers and Savage Nomads. These two gangs consolidated for mutual protection in the state's prison system and became known as Los Solidos. Los Solidos members distribute drugs, mostly heroin, in Connecticut and surrounding states, both in prison and on the streets. Members also have committed extortion, homicides, drive-by shootings, assaults, and witness intimidation. There are over 200 Los Solidos members ranging in age from 16 to 30 in the Hartford area.

Ñeta originated as a Hispanic prison gang in the Puerto Rico prison system in the early 1970s. Ñeta has many chapters in the U.S. prison system, primarily in Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Ñeta is an organized gang that derives most of its income from drug distribution. Members also have committed extortion, intimidation, robberies, assaults, money laundering, black market weapons distribution, and murder. Law enforcement officials in New Haven report that Ñeta is the most significant gang (distributes the most drugs) in the city, and most members are 16 to 18 years of age.

20 Luv (also 20 Love) is loosely organized with a set of 20 rules and regulations. Its members are predominantly African American males. Originating in the Connecticut prison system in the 1970s as a spin-off of the Hartford-based Magnificent 20's, the gang has a history of assault and violence toward Caucasian inmates. According to the Southeastern Gang Activities Group, 20 Luv's main sources of income are extortion and drug distribution. The gang has over 200 members, most 19 to 21 years of age, in Hartford.

Source: Southeastern Gang Activities Group; National Drug Intelligence Center National Gang Survey 2000.

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Loosely organized crews--local neighborhood-based groups that are unaffiliated with nationally recognized gangs--also distribute drugs in Connecticut. Unlike street gangs, which have organized leadership and a set membership, crews in Connecticut are informal groups. Crews form primarily for economic gain, change composition regularly, and often engage in turf fights with organized street gangs.

Retail distributors use technology devices to communicate with buyers and other distributors. Cellular phones and pagers commonly are used to arrange meetings with buyers and to coordinate drug shipments. Cellular phone numbers are changed frequently, and the phones often are discarded after a period of time to avoid law enforcement detection. Some distributors also use the Internet to communicate, making law enforcement detection difficult.

The overall crime rate--including drug-related crime--in Connecticut has decreased since 1991. According to the 2000 Crime in Connecticut report, the crime rate steadily decreased from 5,378 offenses per 100,000 population in 1991 to 3,239 per 100,000 population in 2000. The violent crime rate in Connecticut decreased from 366.74 per 100,000 population in 1998 to 330.64 in 2000, and the murder rate decreased from 4.12 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 2.88  per 100,000 population in 2000. Eleven of the 98 murders in the state in 2000 were drug-related. Bridgeport officials reported the largest single-year decrease in the number of murders: from 32 in 1999 to 20 in 2000. In 2000 law enforcement officials in Connecticut recorded 18,154 drug abuse violations--including possession, sale, abuse, and growing or manufacturing of illegal drugs--a decrease from 19,009 in 1999.

Connecticut Girl Shot During Gun Fight

A 7-year-old girl was accidentally shot through the jaw on July 4, 2001, in Hartford's North End. Local law enforcement officials suspected that two drug dealers, one recently released from prison, shot her during a territorial dispute.

Source: The Hartford Courant, 17 July 2001. 

The Connecticut Statewide Narcotics Task Force, part of the Connecticut State Police, is the primary drug enforcement agency under authority of the state of Connecticut. The Statewide Narcotics Task Force works with federal and local law enforcement agencies to suppress the distribution of drugs in Connecticut. The Statewide Narcotics Task Force is divided into five task force districts--East, North Central, Northwest, South Central, and Southwest.

Figure 1. Connecticut Statewide Narcotics Task Force districts.

Map showing Connecticut divided into five Statewide Narcotics Task Force districts.

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The number of drug-related treatment admissions in Connecticut is increasing. According to Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) data, the number of treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities for drug or alcohol abuse was higher in 1999 (50,008 admissions) than in 1994 (45,665 admissions). In 1999 Connecticut ranked first in the nation for the rate of treatment admissions per 100,000 population and eleventh in the nation for the total number of treatment admissions. The Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services reported that there were 53,427 treatment admissions for drug or alcohol abuse in fiscal year (FY) 2000. Over 56 percent of the individuals admitted for treatment in Connecticut in FY2000 were Caucasian,  23.1 percent were African American, and 18.6 percent were Hispanic.

Table 1. Treatment Admissions to Publicly Funded Facilities, Connecticut, 1994-1999

  Total Admissions* Heroin Cocaine Marijuana Methamphetamine
1994 45,665 10,124 8,493  1,986 32
1995 46,276 12,245 8,687 2,288 34
1996 45,553 11,898 8,128 2,723 33
1997 47,592 13,807 7,458 2,952 36
1998 51,654 16,822 7,054 3,171 27
1999 50,008 16,380 6,319 3,645 32

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Treatment Episode Data Set, 1994-1999.
*Total Admissions includes drugs and alcohol.

Disparities between state and federal reporting on admissions to substance abuse treatment programs are likely to occur because of differences in data collection and reporting methodologies.

The number of deaths involving drug abuse in Connecticut has increased dramatically since 1997. According to the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the number of deaths in which drugs were a factor nearly tripled from 1997 to 2000, with 43 in 1997, 74 in 1998, 96 in 1999, and 122 in 2000. In 2000 drugs were involved in the deaths of 90 males and 32 females. Most decedents (87%) were Caucasian.

The rate of drug abuse in Connecticut is slightly higher than the national average. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, in 1999, 7.1 percent of individuals surveyed in Connecticut reported having abused an illicit drug in the previous month compared with approximately 6.3 percent nationwide. Individuals aged 18 to 25 made up the largest group reporting past month drug abuse.

A significant percentage of young people in Connecticut report abusing drugs. According to the Governor's Prevention Initiative for Youth 2000 Student Survey, 42.3 percent of tenth grade students surveyed in Connecticut reported having abused marijuana at least once in their lifetime. The average age of first time marijuana use decreased from 13½ in 1989 to 12½ in 2000 among eighth grade students surveyed in Connecticut. Among ninth and tenth grade students, 3.6 percent reported having abused powdered cocaine, 2.6 percent reported having abused crack cocaine, and 1.8 percent reported having abused heroin in their lifetime.

The financial impact of substance abuse on Connecticut's budget is significant. In 1998 Connecticut officials spent nearly $850 million on substance abuse-related programs in the areas of justice, education, health, child-family assistance, mental health-developmental disabilities, public safety, and state workforce. This figure amounted to almost 7.4 percent of the state's total expenditures. When factoring in the cost of lost productivity and nongovernmental expenses by private social services, estimates for total substance abuse expenditures in Connecticut are even higher.


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