Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
The distribution and abuse of illicit drugs, primarily crack cocaine and ice methamphetamine, in the HIDTA region are often associated with violent crimes and property crimes. Law enforcement officials frequently note that crack cocaine and ice methamphetamine distributors commonly commit violent crimes such as assaults, home invasions, and shootings to protect and expand their drug operations. Moreover, 17 of 28 law enforcement agencies in the Atlanta HIDTA region that responded to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey (NDTS) 2006 report that crack cocaine is the drug that most contributes to violent crime in their jurisdictions, and 15 of the 28 report that methamphetamine is the drug that most contributes to property crime.
Law enforcement officials report that the current rate of violence among street-level crack cocaine distributors has surpassed 2006 levels, particularly in DeKalb County, largely as a result of disputes between Atlanta-based distributors and distributors from New Orleans, Louisiana, over drug territory. The violence began when crack distributors from New Orleans, displaced by Hurricane Katrina, relocated to Atlanta and began to compete with local Atlanta crack dealers for drug territory. Law enforcement officials expected this violence to decline as drug distributors from New Orleans returned home after hurricane recovery efforts. However, many former New Orleans-based traffickers have elected to stay and expand operations in the area; as such, not only has the violence between these distributors not subsided, it has increased.
Cocaine is the primary drug of abuse identified in drug treatment admissions in the Atlanta MSA, accounting for 34 percent of all admissions in state fiscal year (SFY) 2006 (3,047 of 8,966).5 The number of cocaine admissions has fluctuated since SFY2002, but has decreased overall. This decrease is quite likely a result of some stimulant abusers switching from cocaine to methamphetamine. Marijuana admissions accounted for the next highest number of treatment admissions; the number of admissions increased from 1,804 in SFY2002 to 2,388 in SFY2006. This increase was most likely the result of an increase in the availability of high-potency marijuana in the area. Methamphetamine-related treatment admissions rose overall from 384 in SFY2002 to 1,299 in SFY2006 but declined between SFY2005 and SFY2006. African Americans in Atlanta are most likely to abuse crack cocaine, and Caucasians are most likely to abuse methamphetamine; however, indicators suggest a growing level of methamphetamine abuse among African Americans. (See Table 6.)