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Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
June 2007


The city of Atlanta is intersected by three major interstate highways: Interstates 20, 75, and 85. Drug traffickers use these interstates to transport illicit drugs directly to the Atlanta HIDTA region and from the region to cities throughout Georgia as well as Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Moreover, Mexican DTOs use I-20 to transport illicit drugs to Atlanta from southwestern drug markets. In fact, Atlanta has become the primary destination in the eastern United States for illicit drugs transported by Mexican DTOs through the West Texas HIDTA region.4 In 2006 the Georgia State Highway Patrol seized kilogram quantities of illicit drugs and more than $1.7 million in U.S. currency from traffickers using roadways in the Atlanta HIDTA. (See Table 4.)

Table 4. Georgia State Highway Patrol Drug and Currency Seizures
Atlanta HIDTA Region, 2006

Seized Item Amount
Cocaine 31.54 kilograms
Marijuana 11.31 kilograms
Methamphetamine 1.34 kilograms
U.S. Currency $1,774,678

 Source: Georgia State Highway Patrol.

Traffickers use private and commercial vehicles most often to transport illicit drugs; they also use parcel delivery services; couriers on buses, trains, and commercial aircraft; and, to a lesser extent, private aircraft. They make extensive use of hidden compartments in vehicles and often commingle drugs with otherwise legitimate shipments. For instance, law enforcement officials have detected Mexican DTOs transporting tractor-trailer loads of fresh produce commingled with illicit drugs to the state farmers' market in southern Atlanta.

End Note

4. Interstates 10 and 20 link Atlanta directly to the two primary transshipment centers--El Paso and Midland/Odessa--in the West Texas HIDTA, making the Atlanta HIDTA easily accessible to Mexican DTOs that operate from West Texas.

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