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National Drug Intelligence Center.

   

Title:

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Drug Threat Assessment

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Drug Threat Assessment. Publication Date: July 2003

Document ID: 2003-S0381PR-001

Archived on:  January 1, 2006. This document may contain dated information. It remains available to provide access to historical materials.

 This report is a strategic assessment that addresses the status and outlook of the drug threat to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Analytical judgment determined the threat posed by each drug type or category, taking into account the most current quantitative and qualitative information on availability, demand, production or cultivation, transportation, and distribution, as well as the effects of a particular drug on abusers and society as a whole. While NDIC sought to incorporate the latest available information, a time lag often exists between collection and publication of data, particularly demand-related data sets. NDIC anticipates that this drug threat assessment will be useful to policymakers, law enforcement personnel, and treatment providers at the federal, state, and local levels because it draws upon a broad range of information sources to describe and analyze the drug threat to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Your questions, comments, and suggestions for future subjects are welcome at any time.  Addresses are provided at the end of the page.
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Contents 

Executive Summary

Overview
 Fast Facts

Cocaine
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

Heroin
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

Marijuana
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

Other Dangerous Drugs
  MDMA
  Diverted Pharmaceuticals

Outlook

Sources


Executive Summary

The distribution and abuse as well as the transshipment of illicit drugs pose serious threats to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are major transshipment points for cocaine destined for the continental United States. Puerto Rico also serves as a major transshipment site for South American heroin smuggled to the continental United States.

Cocaine poses a significant drug threat to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The drug is readily available and commonly abused, and its distribution and abuse often are associated with violent crime. According to law enforcement and health officials, powdered and crack cocaine commonly are abused in Puerto Rico, while crack cocaine abuse is more prevalent than powdered cocaine abuse in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands frequently are used as cocaine transshipment locations; most of the cocaine smuggled to the islands from South America is transshipped to other markets, primarily in the U.S. mainland. Cocaine is transported into and through Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands primarily by maritime vessels and also by aircraft. Dominican drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups are the primary transporters of cocaine into and through Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; however, Colombian drug trafficking organizations and Puerto Rican criminal groups also transport cocaine into and through the islands. Colombian, Dominican, and Puerto Rican criminal groups are the principal wholesale-level distributors of cocaine in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These criminal groups supply the drug principally to other Puerto Rican and Dominican criminal groups and local independent dealers and USVI criminal groups for retail sale.

Heroin poses a significant drug threat to Puerto Rico, although it poses only a minor threat to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Heroin abuse is a significant problem in Puerto Rico and is largely fueled by the availability of high purity South American heroin. According to local law enforcement authorities, very small quantities of Southeast Asian, Mexican black tar, and Mexican brown powdered heroin occasionally are available. Puerto Rico serves as a significant transshipment location for South American heroin smuggled to the continental United States. Heroin is transported into and through Puerto Rico primarily by air and maritime conveyances. Colombian and Dominican drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups are the primary transporters of heroin into and through Puerto Rico; however, Puerto Rican criminal groups also transport heroin into and through the commonwealth. Colombian and, to a lesser extent, Dominican and Puerto Rican criminal groups are the principal distributors of wholesale quantities of heroin in Puerto Rico. These criminal groups supply the drug principally to other Puerto Rican and Dominican criminal groups and local independent dealers for retail sale. Heroin distribution in the U.S. Virgin Islands is very limited, and there is virtually no wholesale distribution of the drug. In the U.S. Virgin Islands retail-level heroin distribution is confined to a small Hispanic community in St. Croix.

Marijuana is one of the most widely available and commonly abused illicit drugs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Most of the marijuana available in Puerto Rico is produced in Mexico; however, locally produced marijuana as well as marijuana produced in Colombia and Jamaica also is available. Most marijuana available in the U.S. Virgin Islands is smuggled from southern island locations such as St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; however, its origin is unknown. Cannabis cultivation in Puerto Rico is limited. Most of the cannabis grown in Puerto Rico is cultivated in small plots in the central mountain area and in the Rio Grande region of northeast Puerto Rico. Cannabis produced locally in the U.S. Virgin Islands usually is cultivated outdoors; however, poor terrain and arid climate across the U.S. Virgin Islands produce a low-quality product. Puerto Rican criminal groups primarily use couriers aboard commercial aircraft and package delivery services to transport Mexico-produced marijuana into Puerto Rico. Colombian drug trafficking organizations often use the transportation services of Dominican drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups to smuggle Colombian marijuana to Puerto Rico by maritime conveyances. Marijuana primarily is transported to the U.S. Virgin Islands in small maritime vessels. Puerto Rican criminal groups and local independent dealers are the principal distributors of wholesale and retail quantities of marijuana in Puerto Rico. In the U.S. Virgin Islands local criminal groups and independent dealers are the primary wholesale and retail distributors of marijuana.

Other dangerous drugs pose a low threat to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Other dangerous drugs abused in Puerto Rico include the stimulant MDMA and diverted pharmaceuticals, including meperidines such as Demerol; oxycodones such as Percocet; hydromorphones such as Dilaudid; and benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax. MDMA commonly is abused at bars and nightclubs in San Juan. Young individuals, primarily upper-middle-class youth, are the primary abusers of MDMA in Puerto Rico. Dominican and Puerto Rican criminal groups recruit some of these young individuals as couriers to transport MDMA from Europe to Puerto Rico via the Dominican Republic aboard commercial aircraft. Young Puerto Rican men are the primary retail distributors of MDMA. There is little wholesale distribution of MDMA in Puerto Rico. The diversion and abuse of pharmaceutical drugs pose minor but continuing threats to Puerto Rico. In the U.S. Virgin Islands the distribution and abuse of MDMA, as well as the diversion and abuse of pharmaceutical drugs, are limited.

There are no reports of methamphetamine production, availability, or abuse in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 


Addresses

National Drug Intelligence Center
319 Washington Street, 5th Floor
Johnstown, PA 15901

Tel. (814) 532-4601
FAX (814) 532-4690
E-mail NDIC.Contacts@usdoj.gov

National Drug Intelligence Center
8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1001
McLean, VA 22102-3840

Tel. (703) 556-8970
FAX (703) 556-7807

 

Web Addresses

ADNET:  http://ndicosa 
      DOJ:  http://www.usdoj.gov/archive/ndic/
      LEO:  home.leo.gov/lesig/archive/ndic/ 
     RISS:  ndic.riss.net


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