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Drug Threat Overview

The CVC HIDTA is an area of significant marijuana and methamphetamine production and is a national-level distribution and transshipment area for all illicit drugs smuggled to, through, and from the HIDTA region to U.S. drug markets. Large-scale marijuana and methamphetamine production and the organizations that control these operations pose the most significant threat to the region. These DTOs are the primary sources and distributors of marijuana and methamphetamine both in the region and to drug markets throughout the United States. Ice methamphetamine and marijuana are produced in wholesale quantities in the region, primarily by Mexican DTOs. Additionally, Mexican DTOs regularly transport bulk quantities of ice methamphetamine, marijuana, powder cocaine, and heroin from Mexico into the area for subsequent regional- and national-level distribution. Indoor cannabis cultivation is increasing in the region, primarily because of increased large-scale indoor grow operations established by Canada-based Asian DTOs. These grow sites often are located in residential neighborhoods. Indoor cannabis cultivation also has increased because some Caucasian growers have moved indoors to avoid improved outdoor detection and eradication and to attain higher profit margins through the production of high-potency indoor marijuana.

Crack cocaine and black tar heroin are also widely distributed in the HIDTA region, and the availability of other dangerous drugs and pharmaceuticals has increased over the past year in the area, compounding the problems confronting the region from illicit drug trafficking.

 

Drug Trafficking Organizations

Mexican and Asian DTOs are the primary drug traffickers in the HIDTA region and are the greatest concern to Central Valley law enforcement officials. These groups use multigenerational family networks located in the United States and in Mexico, Canada, and Asia to facilitate illegal drug production and distribution operations. Other criminal groups, street gangs, and independent dealers operate in the area; however, the drugs that these groups and dealers distribute generally are supplied by Mexican DTOs and, to a lesser extent, Asian criminal groups.

Drug Trafficking Organizations, Criminal Groups, and Gangs

Drug trafficking organizations are complex organizations with highly defined command-and-control structures that produce, transport, and/or distribute large quantities of one or more illicit drugs.

Criminal groups operating in the United States are numerous and range from small to moderately sized, loosely knit groups that distribute one or more drugs at the retail level and midlevel.

Gangs are defined by the National Alliance of Gang Investigators' Associations as groups or associations of three or more persons with a common identifying sign, symbol, or name, the members of which individually or collectively engage in criminal activity that creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

Mexican DTOs

Mexican DTOs control most illicit drug production, smuggling, transportation, and distribution in the Central Valley HIDTA and represent the most significant criminal threat to the area. Members of these organizations operate within the region's large Hispanic population, supplying drug markets in California and throughout the United States with wholesale quantities of ice methamphetamine and marijuana that they produce in Central California or smuggle to the area from Mexico. Mexican DTOs operating in the Central Valley HIDTA region also distribute cocaine and black tar heroin to local, regional, and national drug markets.

Asian Criminal Groups

Asian criminal groups, primarily ethnic Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, and Vietnamese, are significant producers and distributors of illicit drugs in the Central Valley HIDTA area. The drug trafficking threat posed by Asian DTOs is a lesser threat than that posed by Mexican organizations; however, the drug production and trafficking operations of Asian DTOs are increasing. Canada-based Vietnamese DTOs produce high-potency marijuana in Central California, primarily at large-scale indoor grow sites.


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