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California Drug Threat Assessment Update
May 2002


California will remain one of the most active drug smuggling and production areas in the nation. The state's major air, land, and sea ports of entry as well as its highly developed transportation system enable methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and other dangerous drugs to be transported from and through California en route to drug markets within and outside the state. All drugs of abuse will remain readily available in the state.

The production, distribution, and abuse of methamphetamine will continue to pose the greatest drug threat to California. Methamphetamine production will further expand in urban, suburban, and rural areas to meet demand for the drug, leading to additional adverse social, environmental, and economic consequences. Moreover, methamphetamine production will continue to deplete state and local budgets to cover the costs associated with methamphetamine laboratory and dump site cleanups.

Cocaine--both powdered and crack--will remain a serious threat to California, primarily to urban areas of the state. Mexican DTOs will continue to dominate the wholesale and retail distribution of powdered cocaine; however, Hispanic gangs may begin to challenge their dominance in retail distribution. Street gangs continue to convert and sell crack cocaine.

Heroin abuse will remain at relatively high levels. Demand will be met largely by Mexican black tar heroin, the predominant type available in California. Mexican DTOs and criminal groups will continue to supply the majority of this heroin in California as well as throughout the United States, using Southern California as a major transportation hub and distribution center.

The widespread availability and abuse of marijuana will continue in California. Domestic cannabis cultivation is widespread, and marijuana producers, particularly Mexican DTOs, will increasingly use public lands, including national and state forests, for cultivation. Moreover, the demand for higher potency domestically produced marijuana will likely increase.

The increasing availability of other dangerous drugs--including club drugs such as MDMA and GHB and hallucinogens such as LSD and PCP--will pose new challenges to law enforcement officials if abuse of these drugs continues to increase. The diversion and abuse of pharmaceutical drugs, particularly prescription pain relievers, will also continue to pose challenges to law enforcement due to the state's proximity to unregulated pharmacies in Mexico.


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