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NDIC seal linked to Home page. National Drug Intelligence Center
Delaware Drug Threat Assessment Update
May 2003


Treatment statistics and medical examiner data reflect the magnitude of the heroin threat to Delaware. According to data from the Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, heroin-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities decreased 9 percent from 2,356 in SFY2000 to 2,153 in SFY2001. In spite of this decrease, there were more treatment admissions related to heroin than to any other illicit drug in SFY2001. Heroin frequently is a factor in drug deaths in the Wilmington metropolitan area. According to DAWN mortality data, there were 32 heroin/morphine-related deaths in Wilmington in 2001. Heroin/ morphine was the only drug present in four of these deaths.

Heroin, primarily South American heroin, is most readily available in the northern urban areas of the state, and increasingly is available in rural areas of Delaware. Three of the five law enforcement respondents to the NDTS 2002 in Delaware reported that the availability of heroin is medium or high in their jurisdictions. Federal law enforcement officials seized 0.3 kilogram of heroin in 2002, according to FDSS data. (See text box.) USSC data indicate that there were no heroin-related federal sentences in the state in FY2001. (See Table 1 in Cocaine section.) The DEA Wilmington Resident Office reported that heroin sold for $4,000 to $6,000 per ounce, $80 to $300 per gram, and $10 to $20 per bag in the first quarter of FY2003.

Limitations of Seizure and Sentencing Data

Seizure and federal sentencing data likely do not accurately reflect heroin availability in Delaware. Heroin seizures in the state often fall below minimum FDSS reporting thresholds, and there is no central repository to report drug seizures made by local law enforcement officials. Further, most heroin violations in the state involve retail-level quantities and, therefore, often do not rise to a level that warrants federal investigation or prosecution.

African American and Caucasian local independent dealers, Dominican criminal groups, and local street gangs such as Bloods, Latin Kings, and Hilltop Hustlers are the dominant transporters of heroin into the state. They also are the primary retail-level distributors--wholesale-level heroin distribution is extremely limited. Such dealers, groups, and gangs usually transport gram to multiounce quantities of heroin into the state via private vehicles. They transport the drug primarily from Philadelphia but also from New York City, Baltimore, and Camden, New Jersey. Heroin also is transported into the state by couriers aboard buses and trains. According to the DEA Wilmington Resident Office, heroin abusers from the Maryland cities of Elkton, North East, and Ocean City increasingly travel to Wilmington to purchase personal use quantities of heroin from Dominican criminal groups. DEA reports that these Dominican criminal groups relocated to Wilmington from Philadelphia because of enhanced drug enforcement initiatives in that city. Heroin most often is packaged in small glassine bags stamped with a logo and distributed at open-air drug markets as well as from private residences and bars.


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