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Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
June 2007

Drug Threat Overview

Cannabis cultivation and marijuana production pose the greatest drug threats to the Appalachia HIDTA region. The region comprises three marijuana source states--Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia--that consistently sustain high levels of outdoor cannabis cultivation. Most of the marijuana produced in the region remains and is abused within the region; some is transported to markets outside the HIDTA4. The frequency of these shipments is largely unknown and remains an intelligence gap.

Methamphetamine production, distribution, and abuse also pose formidable drug threats to the region. Powder methamphetamine is produced locally in small clandestine laboratories in quantities sufficient to support only personal use and limited distribution by laboratory operators. However, the number of such laboratories has decreased, as evidenced by declining laboratory seizures from 2004 to 2006. Mexican DTOs, based primarily in Atlanta, are supplanting declining local production with increasing quantities of higher-purity ice methamphetamine produced in Mexico. The higher purity of Mexican ice methamphetamine has drawn more abusers from all demographic categories, including teenagers and young adults active in the club scene.

The trafficking and abuse of diverted pharmaceuticals and cocaine, particularly crack, are widespread and represent considerable drug threats, while heroin and other dangerous drugs (ODDs) represent low threats to the Appalachia HIDTA region. Diverted pharmaceuticals such as hydrocodone, methadone, and oxycodone as well as benzodiazepines, including diazepam and alprazolam, are the most frequently diverted pharmaceutical drugs. Caucasian adolescents and adults are the primary abusers of diverted pharmaceuticals, enticed in part by the ease with which they can obtain the drugs over the Internet and from retail-level distributors. Powder cocaine is available to varying degrees throughout the HIDTA region; some is converted to crack cocaine at or near distribution sites. Crack cocaine abuse appears to be increasing in some rural areas of Tennessee and West Virginia. Heroin availability and abuse are generally low compared with the availability and abuse of other drugs in the HIDTA region; however, Mexican black tar heroin is becoming more available than it had been in some areas of Tennessee and, to a much lesser extent, in southeastern Kentucky. ODDs such as MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as ecstasy), GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) are available in the region on a limited and sporadic basis.

End Note

4. The Appalachia HIDTA reports that these markets include cities in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

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