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National Drug Intelligence Center
Kansas Drug Threat Assessment
Methamphetamine is a principal drug threat to Kansas, primarily because of the drug's ready availability as well as the violence and environmental harm that often result from its production and abuse. Methamphetamine produced by Mexican criminal groups in Mexico, California, and southwestern states is the predominant type available in Kansas, although the availability of locally produced methamphetamine is increasing. The number of methamphetamine laboratories seized in Kansas more than quadrupled from 1998 through 2001, and many law enforcement agencies report that they are witnessing an adverse environmental impact from the presence of methamphetamine laboratories. Caucasian local independent producers, who generally use the Birch reduction method, are the primary in-state methamphetamine producers. Mexican criminal groups transport methamphetamine from Mexico, California, and southwestern states to distribution centers in Kansas in private and commercial vehicles. These groups also are the primary wholesale methamphetamine distributors throughout the state. Mexican criminal groups and Caucasian local independent dealers and, to a lesser extent, street gangs and OMGs distribute methamphetamine at the retail level. Retail distribution of methamphetamine typically occurs at residences, used car dealerships, parking lots, or in bars and restaurants.
Law enforcement officials in Kansas report that methamphetamine abuse is a significant problem throughout the state. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) National Drug Threat Survey 2002, of the 39 Kansas law enforcement respondents who reported methamphetamine abuse in their jurisdictions, 33 indicated that abuse was high, 5 indicated that abuse was moderate, and 1 indicated that abuse was low.
Methamphetamine-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities in Kansas increased from 997 in 1997 to 1,160 in 2001, according to TEDS. (See Table 1 in Overview section.) Data from the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services indicate that there were 989 methamphetamine-related treatment admissions in state fiscal year (SFY) 2001--July 1 through June 30. (Disparities between state and federal reporting of admissions to substance abuse treatment programs are likely to occur because of differences in data collection and reporting methodologies.)
Methamphetamine is readily available throughout Kansas. Of the 38 Kansas respondents to the NDTS 2002 who reported methamphetamine availability in their jurisdictions, 34 indicated that availability was high and 4 indicated that availability was moderate. Methamphetamine produced in Mexico, California, and southwestern states is the predominant type available in Kansas; however, the availability of locally produced methamphetamine is increasing significantly. In addition, during the first quarter of 2002, law enforcement officials in Kansas City and Topeka indicated that high purity crystal methamphetamine, known as ice, became available in wholesale and retail quantities in their jurisdictions.
Despite the increasing availability of methamphetamine, seizures have declined in Kansas. According to the Federal-wide Drug Seizure System (FDSS), federal law enforcement officials in Kansas seized 32.0 kilograms of methamphetamine in 1998, 43.0 kilograms in 1999, 27.4 kilograms in 2000, and 17.5 kilograms in 2001. Law enforcement officials reporting to Operation Pipeline seized almost 47 kilograms of methamphetamine on Kansas highways in FY1999 and slightly over 24 kilograms in FY2000. State and local seizures of methamphetamine also are significant. The Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) seized more than 21 kilograms of methamphetamine in 2000 and nearly 13 kilograms in 2001. Also in 2001 the Topeka Police Department seized 3.6 kilograms of methamphetamine, the Kansas City Police Department seized nearly 1.3 kilograms, and the Overland Park Police Department seized more than 2.0 kilograms.
The percentage of drug-related federal sentences that were methamphetamine-related in Kansas in FY2001 was more than twice the national percentage. According to USSC FY2001 data, 35 percent of drug-related federal sentences in Kansas resulted from methamphetamine violations compared with 14 percent nationwide. (See Table 2.) There were 10 federal sentences for methamphetamine-related offenses in Kansas in FY1997, 50 in FY1998, 59 in FY1999, 55 in FY2000, and 75 in FY2001. In addition, from October 1998 to May 2001, 8 of the 17 Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigations initiated in Kansas were methamphetamine-related.
Prices for methamphetamine in Kansas have remained relatively stable, while purity levels have fluctuated depending on the type of methamphetamine distributed and location. The Kansas City Police Department reports that methamphetamine produced by Mexican criminal groups sells for $2,500 per one-half pound, $1,000 per ounce, and $175 per one-eighth ounce. Locally produced methamphetamine in Kansas City sells for $8,000 to $12,000 per one-half pound and $2,000 to $2,500 per ounce. The price of crystal methamphetamine in Kansas City is $18,000 per pound, $1,400 to $2,400 per ounce, and $800 per one-quarter ounce. The Wichita Police Department reports that in its jurisdiction methamphetamine produced by Mexican criminal groups sells for $5,000 to $8,000 per pound, $700 to $800 per ounce, and $100 to $120 per one-eighth ounce. The Topeka Police Department reports that in its jurisdiction methamphetamine produced by Mexican criminal groups sells for $5,000 per pound. According to the DEA Kansas City District Office, in its area of responsibility the purity of methamphetamine produced by Mexican criminal groups ranged from 20 to 30 percent in 2001, and the purity of locally produced methamphetamine averaged 80 percent. The purity of crystal methamphetamine in Kansas City during the first quarter of 2002 was 99 percent. According to DEA, the average purity of methamphetamine seized in Kansas (26.6%) was lower than the average purity nationwide (38.0%) in 2001.
The potential for violence associated with methamphetamine abuse is a concern within the state. Individuals addicted to methamphetamine are unpredictable, experience feelings of fright and confusion, and will commit violent crimes to obtain the drug. Methamphetamine abusers often are paranoid and delusional and frequently arm themselves against perceived threats.
Violence associated with methamphetamine distribution also is a concern in Kansas. Methamphetamine distributors sometimes commit violent crimes to defend or expand their distribution territory and collect drug debts. Numerous street gangs distribute methamphetamine and commit violent crimes such as assault and home invasion. Kansas law enforcement respondents to the NDIC National Gang Survey 2000 reported that the following gangs distribute methamphetamine and commit violent crimes in their jurisdictions: Aryan Brotherhood and Latin Kings in Leavenworth; Florencia 13 and South Dale Bloods in Kansas City; Gangster Disciples in Overland Park; and Crips, East Side Vatos Locos, Four Corner Hustlers, Gangster Disciples, and Sureņos 13 in Topeka.
Mexican criminal groups using the hydriodic acid/red phosphorus reduction method in high volume laboratories in Mexico, California, and southwestern states produce most of the methamphetamine available in Kansas. Local independent producers, primarily Caucasians, also produce the drug in Kansas. They generally use the Birch reduction method to produce gram to ounce quantities of methamphetamine for personal use and for distribution to friends. Mexican criminal groups have recruited some Caucasian local independent producers in Wichita to produce methamphetamine. These Mexican criminal groups combine the locally produced methamphetamine with lower quality methamphetamine (produced in Mexico, California, and southwestern states) in order to increase the purity of their product.
The number of methamphetamine laboratories seized in Kansas increased each year from 1998 through 2001. According to DEA and KBI statistics, there were 189 laboratories, chemicals/glassware, and dumpsites seized in Kansas in 1998, 511 in 1999, 702 in 2000, and 846 in 2001. According to EPIC, Kansas ranked fourth in the nation for the total number of methamphetamine laboratories, chemicals/glassware, and dumpsites seized in 2001. In 2001 the counties in which the largest number of seizures occurred were Shawnee (90), Cowley (67), Saline (62), Reno (55), and Sedgwick (48). Most laboratories are relatively small, rudimentary, and portable, making detection a challenge for law enforcement authorities. The portability of these laboratories enables producers to assemble them in abandoned farmhouses, automobiles, campers, hotel rooms, recreational vehicles, and warehouses.
The chemicals used in methamphetamine production are readily available in Kansas. Anhydrous ammonia often is stolen from farms and farm supply stores. Iodine typically is acquired at local feed stores. Lithium often is extracted from camera batteries available at most retail stores. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine often are extracted from diet pills and many over-the-counter cold medicines using coffee filters, coffeepots, tabletop grills, and microwave ovens.
Law enforcement initiatives, partnerships between law enforcement authorities and retail merchants, as well as increased regulatory controls, have decreased the availability of some of the chemicals used to produce methamphetamine. Topeka and other cities have a Methamphetamine Watch Program to identify individuals involved in methamphetamine production. Under the program--a collective effort involving KBI, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and major retail stores--retailers report multiple purchases of chemicals that are commonly used in the methamphetamine production process. In addition, authorities throughout Kansas have requested that retailers limit the sale of common household items such as cold medicines that contain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which may be used to produce methamphetamine. Furthermore, stricter federal and state controls on bulk purchases of ephedrine have impacted methamphetamine production and forced methamphetamine producers to use pseudoephedrine, which is costlier and less efficient.
The Birch reduction method is common in Kansas as in other agricultural states because of the widespread availability of anhydrous ammonia, which is used legitimately as a fertilizer. During 2001 more than 83 percent (706) of the 846 methamphetamine laboratories, dumpsites, and chemicals/glass/equipment sites seized in Kansas employed the Birch reduction method. Theft of anhydrous ammonia from storage tanks on farms and at farm supply outlets is common. Law enforcement officials in Manhattan and the Kansas City area reported that methamphetamine producers have stored diverted anhydrous ammonia in fire extinguishers, and law enforcement officials in Colby reported anhydrous ammonia being stored in propane tanks and thermos bottles. Anhydrous ammonia also reportedly has been stored inside steel containers normally used to hold syrup for carbonated beverages. In 1999 in an effort to curb the theft of anhydrous ammonia, the Kansas legislature enacted a law making anhydrous ammonia theft a felony.
The iodine/red phosphorus method was the primary method used to produce methamphetamine in Kansas until 1998 but has been used less frequently in recent years. In 2001, 115 of the 846 laboratories, chemicals/glassware, and dumpsites seized in Kansas used the iodine/red phosphorus method. These laboratories were seized in various locations including Kansas City, Lawrence, Pittsburg, and Wichita as well as Jackson County. According to the Kansas City Metro Meth Task Force, producers using the iodine/red phosphorus method sometimes use one location for the pseudoephedrine extraction process, a second location for the iodine and red phosphorus step, and another to produce the finished product. Law enforcement authorities in other parts of Kansas also report decentralized methamphetamine production operations of this type.
Methamphetamine production poses serious safety and environmental concerns. The production process creates toxic and hazardous waste that endangers law enforcement personnel, emergency response teams, children (particularly those in the homes of methamphetamine producers), and the environment. The chemicals used in the production process are toxic, highly flammable, and generate poisonous vapors. Production of 1 pound of methamphetamine yields approximately 5 to 7 pounds of toxic waste, and methamphetamine laboratory operators often dump waste chemicals in areas accessible to the public. These chemicals contaminate soil, streams and rivers, and public sewer systems. Dumpsites are discovered frequently in Kansas. For example, in 2001 law enforcement authorities in Cowley and Saline Counties identified 46 dumpsites and 31 dumpsites, respectively. Remediation of laboratory sites costs federal, state, and local governments millions of dollars every year. The average cost of cleaning one site is $5,000; however, costs can exceed $100,000.
Mexican criminal groups are the primary transporters of most of the methamphetamine available in Kansas. These groups transport the drug from Mexico, California, and southwestern states in commercial vehicles and in hidden compartments in the consoles, dashboards, or spare tire storage areas of private vehicles. Passenger trains and package delivery services also are used, but to a lesser extent. Mexican criminal groups sometimes recruit Mexican immigrants to transport methamphetamine into Kansas. Typically, methamphetamine is transported into Kansas on I-35 and I-70. In addition, US 54, accessible via I-35, also is used to transport methamphetamine, primarily to Wichita. According to KBI, in 2000 Mexican criminal groups operating in southwestern states transported 40 pounds of methamphetamine weekly to Dodge City, Garden City, and Liberal. Topeka Police Department officials report that some Mexican criminal groups associated with the Mexican Mafia and the Sinaloan Cowboys transport methamphetamine into Topeka. Caucasian local independent producers also transport small quantities of locally produced methamphetamine throughout the state using private vehicles.
Mexican criminal groups are the primary wholesale distributors of methamphetamine produced in Mexico, California, and southwestern states. To a lesser extent, local independent dealers, primarily Caucasian, distribute methamphetamine produced in Mexico, California, and southwestern states as well as locally produced methamphetamine at the wholesale level. In 2001 law enforcement authorities in Coffeyville, Fort Scott, Garden City, Independence, Leavenworth, and Newton and in Barton, Dickinson, Jefferson, and Montgomery Counties reported that Caucasian local independent dealers distribute wholesale quantities of methamphetamine in their jurisdictions.
Several Kansas cities serve as methamphetamine distribution centers for the state. Cities located along I-35--particularly Kansas City and Wichita--serve as distribution centers for the methamphetamine that is transported into the state from Mexico, California, and southwestern states. Dodge City, Garden City, Liberal, and Topeka also serve as distribution cities within the state for methamphetamine produced in Kansas as well as in Mexico, California, and southwestern states.
Mexican criminal groups, Caucasian local independent dealers and, to a lesser extent, street gangs and OMGs distribute methamphetamine at the retail level. Mexican criminal groups are the primary retail distributors of methamphetamine produced in Mexico, California, and southwestern states. Caucasian local independent dealers distribute methamphetamine produced in Mexico, California, and southwestern states as well as locally produced methamphetamine. Caucasian local independent dealers in Kansas City distribute methamphetamine in one-half ounce to ounce quantities at the retail level. In some metropolitan areas of Kansas, Hispanic street gangs such as Sureņos, Vatos Locos, Central 13, and Spanish Disciples distribute methamphetamine produced in Mexico, California, and southwestern states at the retail level. Some members of Sureņos recruit Native American women from the Potawatomi Indian Reservation to distribute the drug. The 10/9 Folks street gang, which is composed of Caucasian, Hispanic, and African American members, distributes methamphetamine in Kansas City. The Sons of Silence OMG, with chapters in Chanute, Fort Hays, Hutchinson, Junction City, Kansas City, Manhattan, Russell, Salina, and Topeka, distributes methamphetamine throughout the state. The OMG also is recruiting members in three other cities in Kansas. Fine Upstanding Citizens of Kansas, a Kansas-based OMG, distributes methamphetamine in southeastern Kansas. Members of El Forastero, Galloping Goose, and Hells Angels also distribute methamphetamine throughout the state. Retail quantities of methamphetamine in Kansas usually are distributed from residences, at used car dealerships, in parking lots and bars and restaurants.
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