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Drug Threat Overview

The distribution and abuse of cocaine and the production, distribution, and abuse of methamphetamine are the principal drug threats to the Gulf Coast HIDTA region. According to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey (NDTS) 2010,b 52 of the 101 law enforcement respondents in the Gulf Coast HIDTA region identify cocaine (crack or powder cocaine) as the drug that poses the greatest threat to their jurisdictions and 31 identify methamphetamine (ice or powder methamphetamine). In 2009, Gulf Coast HIDTA initiatives reported the seizure of more than 846 kilograms of cocaine and 252 kilograms of methamphetamine. (See Table 1.)

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

  Powder
Cocaine
Crack
Cocaine
Methamphetamine Marijuana Heroin CPDs*
(in dosage units)
MDMA*
(in dosage units)
Alabama 313.77 4.17 40.53 245.79 .31 26,049 3,182
Arkansas 111.16 .39 16.89 3,012.29 3.65 151 531
Louisiana 320.35 12.12 173.39 4,166.25 10.56 38,538 563,248
Mississippi 81.10 3.92 21.39 1,212.73 6.03 21,991 6,043
Total 826.38 20.60 252.20 8,637.06 20.55 86,279 573,004

Source: Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
*The Gulf Coast HIDTA reports that some initiatives report MDMA seizures in the Controlled Prescription Drugs (CPD) category.

Wholesale cocaine availability in the Gulf Coast HIDTA region rebounded in 2009. The cocaine shortages experienced in the region during 2007 and 2008 have abated, and cocaine is readily available throughout the region. According to National Seizure System (NSS) data, a separate data set from HIDTA initiative seizures, law enforcement officials seized more than 1,134 kilograms of cocaine in Gulf Coast HIDTA counties in 2009, a 117 percent increase from the 522 kilograms seized in 2008. Moreover, wholesale cocaine prices remained stable throughout much of the region and decreased in some of the larger cities, such as Mobile, Alabama; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Gulfport, Mississippi. For example, wholesale-level cocaine prices in Gulfport decreased from $20,000 to $30,000 per kilogram at the end of 2008 to $18,000 to $25,000 per kilogram during the first half of 2009. Despite the wholesale price decrease in some markets, retail-level cocaine prices remained stable throughout the region. For example, retail-level cocaine prices in Gulfport stayed at $75 to $100 per gram from late 2008 to June 2009.

Methamphetamine production and abuse pose significant drug threats in many rural areas in the Gulf Coast HIDTA region. Methamphetamine is extremely addictive and is often associated with crimes such as domestic abuse, child endangerment, theft, and burglary. Consequently, abuse of the drug has damaged the social fabric of many rural communities. Locally produced methamphetamine is most commonly available in the region; however, Mexican ice methamphetamine is also trafficked and abused, particularly in Arkansas.

The diversion, distribution, and abuse of controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) pose a serious and growing threat to the Gulf Coast HIDTA region. CPDs are readily available and abused at high levels throughout the region. NDTS 2010 data show that 97 of the 101 law enforcement agency respondents in the region report that CPDs are available at high to moderate levels in their jurisdictions. The most commonly abused CPDs are oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone.

Marijuana, heroin, and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as ecstasy) pose a low threat to the Gulf Coast HIDTA region. Marijuana availability and abuse levels throughout the region remain stable at high levels. Most of the marijuana available in the region is commercial-grade Mexican marijuana. Locally produced high-potency and commercial-grade marijuana are also available in the region. (See Table A1 and A2 in Appendix A.) Heroin availability and abuse are at low levels throughout most of the region, with the exception of the New Orleans metropolitan area, where heroin availability and abuse have historically been high. MDMA is readily available in the region.


Footnote

b. NDTS data for 2010 cited in this report are as of March 3, 2010. NDTS data cited are raw, unweighted responses from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies solicited through either NDIC or the Office of National Drug Control Policy HIDTA program. Data cited may include responses from agencies that are part of the NDTS 2010 national sample or agencies that are part of HIDTA solicitation lists.


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