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National Drug Intelligence Center.

   

Title:

Tennessee Drug Threat Assessment

Tennessee Drug Threat Assessment.Publication Date: May 2002

Document ID: 2002-S0380TN-001

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 to Tennessee. 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 to Tennessee.

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

Cocaine
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

 

Marijuana
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

Methamphetamine
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

Other Dangerous Drugs
  Stimulants
  Diverted Pharmaceuticals

Heroin
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

Outlook

Sources


List of Tables 

Table 1. Drug-Related Federal Sentences, Tennessee, FY1997-FY2000
Table 2. Drug-Related Treatment Admissions to Publicly Funded Facilities Per 100,000, Tennessee and Nationwide, 1999
Table 3. Drug-Related Treatment Admissions to Publicly Funded Facilities, Tennessee, 1995-1999
Table 4. Powdered Cocaine Prices Per Kilogram, Tennessee, 2000
Table 5. MDMA Prices, by Logo, Tennessee, 2000


Executive Summary

The distribution and abuse of drugs threaten the security of Tennessee residents. Drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups transport large quantities of drugs through Tennessee en route to other states. Cocaine is the primary drug threat to Tennessee because crack cocaine is readily available, commonly abused, and more frequently associated with violent crime than any other drug. Marijuana is the most prevalent drug in Tennessee, and rates of abuse are highest among teenagers and young adults. However, marijuana distribution and abuse are not generally associated with violent crime, rendering marijuana a less serious drug threat. Methamphetamine increasingly is available and abused, although associated violence remains significantly lower than the violence associated with cocaine. Other dangerous drugs, particularly MDMA and diverted pharmaceuticals, are available and abused to a much lesser extent. Heroin is the least available and abused illicit drug in Tennessee.

Cocaine, particularly crack, is the greatest drug threat to Tennessee. Crack cocaine is readily available and commonly abused. The distribution and abuse of crack are associated with more violent crime than any other drug. Tennessee has more cocaine-related treatment admissions and federal sentences than any other drug. Kilogram quantities of powdered cocaine generally are available only in the four major metropolitan areas of Tennessee--Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville. Mexican criminal groups and African American street gangs both based in Tennessee are the primary transporters and wholesale distributors of powdered cocaine. African American street gangs and local independent dealers convert most of the powdered cocaine in Tennessee to crack cocaine locally and are the primary retail distributors. Caucasian criminal groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs, among others, distribute retail quantities of powdered cocaine in Tennessee.

Marijuana, produced primarily in Mexico, is the second greatest drug threat to Tennessee. Marijuana is the most readily available and commonly abused drug in the state; however, its distribution and abuse are generally not associated with violent crime. Tennessee has more marijuana-related treatment admissions and federal sentences than any other drug except cocaine. Cannabis is grown in the Appalachia-Cumberland Plateau region in eastern and central Tennessee, one of the most productive cannabis growing regions in the country. Mexican criminal groups based in Tennessee transport marijuana produced in Mexico into and through Tennessee from distribution centers primarily in Mexico, Arizona, California, and Texas. African American and Hispanic street gangs also transport Mexico-produced marijuana, primarily from California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, New York, and Texas. Mexican criminal groups and, to a lesser extent, street gangs such as Gangster Disciples, Mara Salvatrucha, and Vice Lords are the primary wholesale distributors of Mexico-produced marijuana in Tennessee. Street gangs, primarily African American, and local independent dealers are the primary retail distributors of Mexico-produced marijuana and the primary wholesale and retail distributors of locally produced marijuana. Caucasian criminal groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs, among others, also distribute retail quantities of marijuana in Tennessee.

Methamphetamine is the third greatest drug threat to Tennessee. Methamphetamine increasingly is available; however, the number of methamphetamine-related treatment admissions and federal sentences is significantly lower than those associated with cocaine and marijuana. Methamphetamine production, distribution, and abuse frequently are associated with violent crime in Tennessee, but considerably less often than are cocaine distribution and abuse. Mexican drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups based primarily in Mexico, Arizona, California, and Texas produce most of the methamphetamine sold in Tennessee, primarily using the hydriodic acid/red phosphorus method. Mexican criminal groups based in Tennessee usually transport the drug into the state; however, Tennessee has a large number of independent methamphetamine producers as well. Methamphetamine produced in central and eastern Tennessee using the iodine/red phosphorus method and in western Tennessee using the Birch reduction method also is available. Mexican criminal groups based in Tennessee are the primary wholesale distributors of methamphetamine produced in Mexico and southwestern states by Mexican drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups. These Tennessee-based criminal groups distribute methamphetamine to a variety of criminal groups, street gangs, and outlaw motorcycle gangs that, in turn, distribute the drug at the retail level. Local independent Caucasian producers consume most of what they themselves produce, although they distribute a small amount of methamphetamine to established customers--usually family and friends--to fund further methamphetamine production.

Other dangerous drugs are a minimal but increasing threat to Tennessee. Other dangerous drugs include stimulants such as MDMA and khat and diverted pharmaceuticals such as Dilaudid and, more recently, OxyContin. Within the other dangerous drugs category, MDMA is the drug most commonly abused in Tennessee. Local independent Caucasian dealers usually distribute MDMA to teenagers and young adults, primarily at raves, dance clubs, bars, and on college campuses. Tennessee reportedly does not have a khat abuser population; however, the amount of khat seized at the Memphis International Airport and destined for other states is increasing. Dilaudid and OxyContin are two of the most frequently diverted and abused pharmaceuticals.

Heroin is the least significant illicit drug threat to Tennessee. The availability, abuse, and violence associated with heroin are limited and concentrated primarily in Memphis and, to a lesser extent, in Chattanooga and Knoxville. Mexican brown powdered heroin is available in small quantities in Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville. Mexican black tar heroin is available less frequently. South American heroin rarely is available. Most of the heroin seized in the state is destined for other markets. Wholesale distribution of heroin is rare. Mexican criminal groups, African American street gangs, and local independent African American dealers all based in Tennessee are the primary transporters and retail distributors of heroin.


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/archive/ndic/ 


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