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Drug Threat Overview

The diversion and abuse of CPDs, the distribution and abuse of cocaine, and the production and abuse of methamphetamine are the principal drug threats to the Appalachia HIDTA region. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) National Drug Threat Survey (NDTS) 2010, 25 of the 43 law enforcement respondents in the Appalachia HIDTA region identify CPDs as the drug that poses the greatest threat to their jurisdictions, 9 identify cocaine (crack or powder), and 7 identify methamphetamine (ice or powder). In 2009, Appalachia HIDTA initiatives reported the seizure of more than 27,000 dosage units of oxycodone and hydrocodone, 42 kilograms of cocaine, and 2 kilograms of methamphetamine. (See Table 1.)

Table 1. Appalachia HIDTA Initiative Seizures, by Drug, in Kilograms, 2009

  State Powder
Heroin Oxycodone
KY 10.670 0.384 0.616 1.597 324.065 486.234 0.061 9,981 4,838
TN 18.449 5.889 0.001 0.502 272.718 322.340 0.321 3,016 450
WV 4.059 5.530 0 0.031 555.696 300.058 0.606 8,142 902
Total 33.178 11.803 0.617 2.130 1,152.479 1,108.632 0.988 21,139 6,190

Source: Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
*The amount of high-potency marijuana seized in the Appalachia HIDTA region is calculated on the conversion of one cannabis plant, typically grown indoors, yielding approximately 1 pound (0.454 kg) of high-potency marijuana.

The diversion, distribution, and abuse of CPDs pose the greatest drug threat to the region. CPDs are readily available and abused at high levels. Operational PDMPs in the Appalachia HIDTA region have made acquiring CPDs more difficult, and as a result, many residents travel to states outside the region, particularly Florida and Georgia, to obtain these drugs from doctors, pharmacies, and pain management clinics.d High levels of crime are frequently attributed to the trafficking and abuse of CPDs in the region. Law enforcement officers estimate that 90 percent of all property crimes committed in Cabell, Lincoln, and Wayne Counties, West Virginia, stem from OxyContin abuse.

Availability and abuse of powder and crack cocaine remained stable at high levels in the region in 2009. NDTS 2010 data reveal that 36 of the 43 local law enforcement agency respondents in the Appalachia HIDTA region report that powder cocaine is available at moderate to high levels in their jurisdictions, and 34 report the same for crack cocaine.

Methamphetamine production, distribution, and abuse pose significant drug threats. Law enforcement reporting and methamphetamine laboratory seizure data suggest rising methamphetamine production in the region. Locally produced methamphetamine is most commonly available in the region; however, Mexican methamphetamine is also trafficked and abused. Methamphetamine abuse is often associated with crimes such as child endangerment and assault in some areas of the region.

Cannabis cultivation and subsequent marijuana production and abuse are prevalent in the Appalachia HIDTA region. Caucasian traffickers are the primary producers and distributors of marijuana. Some outdoor cannabis cultivation sites in the region are operated by Mexican or Hispanic traffickers. Marijuana produced in the region is distributed locally and in market areas outside the region. Appalachia HIDTA officials report that the predominant markets for locally produced marijuana are Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, specifically in the old rust belt cities or steel cities in these states, where many Appalachian family members migrated to find work in the mid-twentieth century.

Heroin and other drugs pose low threats to the Appalachia HIDTA region. Heroin availability and abuse are at low levels throughout most of the region. Other drugs, such as MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as ecstasy), GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate), and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), are available in the region on a limited basis.


d. Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia have operational PDMPs. Each state controls the language of its PDMP with regard to how the prescription information gathered as part of the program will be shared not only in the state but also with other states. In July 2009, Florida enacted a law establishing a PDMP. The law requires that pain management clinics register with the Department of Health and that state medical and osteopathic medicine boards set standards of practice for all physicians and osteopaths who prescribe controlled substances from those clinics. As of March 2010, Georgia had no PDMP; however, there is pending legislation that would establish an electronic database of Schedule II, III, IV, and V drugs.

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