National Drug Intelligence Center
The threat posed by the trafficking and abuse of ice methamphetamine will not diminish in the near-term and will remain the most significant drug threat to the Central Valley HIDTA region. Demand for the drug is high, and Mexican DTOs and criminal groups operating in the area are well entrenched and have operated large-scale production and smuggling operations in the area for many years. Based on their established presence in the area, Mexican DTOs will further exploit the primary drug markets within the HIDTA and throughout the nation.
The Central Valley HIDTA may experience an increase in local methamphetamine production in the near term. HIDTA officials have already noted an increase in the incidence of Mexican DTOs and criminal groups reestablishing domestic production sites. Restrictions on precursor chemical imports in Mexico and escalating violence in Mexico will quite likely cause Mexican DTOs to move more of their production operations to the region. The emergence of large-scale pseudoephedrine smurfing operations is likely to provide these producers with sufficient precursor chemicals to bring about a moderate increase in the number of large-scale methamphetamine production laboratories in the region.
The Central Valley HIDTA will remain one of the most significant cannabis cultivation and marijuana production areas in the nation. The demand for high-potency marijuana in the region is increasing, and there are no indications that this will change over the next year. Public lands in remote areas of the region will increasingly be used by Mexican traffickers for outdoor cultivation, and it is likely that cannabis cultivators will increasingly use weapons to protect their grow sites.
To meet rising demand for higher-potency marijuana and capitalize on greater profit margins, independent suppliers and Asian DTOs will quite likely establish larger, more sophisticated indoor cannabis cultivation operations in the region. Increased indoor cultivation will also be supported by a greater number of local marijuana producers moving their operations indoors to avoid outdoor eradication efforts and to gain higher profits through year-round production. Illegal cannabis cultivators will increasingly exploit state medical marijuana laws and expand their illicit cultivation operations.
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