U.S. Department of Justice
National Drug Intelligence Center
Midwest HIDTA Drug Market Analysis 2010
Methamphetamine production by independent Caucasian individuals and criminal groups in the Midwest HIDTA region has increased since a resurgence in 2007 and 2008, supported largely by pseudoephedrine smurfing operations. (See Figure 4 for visual representation of county-level seizures in 2009 versus 2008.) After the passage of precursor control legislation in 2005 made it more difficult to obtain pseudoephedrine, local methamphetamine production in the region decreased substantially through 2007. (See Figure 3.) Law enforcement agencies seized more methamphetamine laboratoriesf (1,495) in Missouri in 2009 than in any other state in the nation; however, officials in many areas, including southeastern Kansas and Minot, North Dakota, also reported notable increases in local methamphetamine production in 2009. Law enforcement officials in Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Kansas City, Sioux City, Springfield (Missouri), and southeastern Missouri report the use of the one-pot cook method--in many cases, with associated consequences. (See text box.)
Figure 3. Methamphetamine Clandestine Laboratory Seizures, by Midwest HIDTA States, 2005-2009
Source: National Seizure System, data run March 3, 2010.
A one-pot cook is actually a variation of the anhydrous ammonia method of production; however, in the one-pot method, cooks use a combination of commonly available chemicals to synthesize the anhydrous ammonia essential for methamphetamine production. In doing so, they are able to produce the drug in approximately 30 minutes at nearly any location by mixing ingredients in easily found containers, such as a 2-liter plastic soda bottle, as opposed to using other methods that require hours to heat ingredients on a stove, a process that could result in toxic fumes, primarily from the anhydrous ammonia. Producers often use the one-pot cook while traveling in vehicles and then dispose of waste components along roadsides. Discarded plastic bottles may carry residual chemicals that can be toxic, explosive, or flammable.
Figure 4. Change in Methamphetamine Laboratory Seizures, Midwest HIDTA Counties, 2008 and 2009
Source: National Seizure System.
Cannabis cultivation--at both indoor and outdoor sites--takes place throughout the Midwest HIDTA region. Marijuana production in the HIDTA region has been relatively stable over the past several years, with some law enforcement agencies, including the Combined Ozarks Multijurisdictional Enforcement Team and the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department, reporting increased indoor and outdoor cannabis cultivation seizures in 2009.
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The Midwest HIDTA region is vulnerable to drug trafficking from the Southwest Border because of its connectivity to that region. Mexican traffickers transport drugs into the Midwest HIDTA region from Mexico through distribution hubs in California (Los Angeles) and the Southwest Border area (El Paso and Dallas, Texas, and Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona). Interstate highways are the primary trafficking routes; however, virtually all U.S. highways, state highways, and local roads are used by traffickers to transport illicit drugs. Major interstates that traverse the HIDTA region are Interstates 29, 35, 44, 55, 70, 80, 90, and 94. (See Figure 5.) Mexican traffickers transport substantial quantities of ice methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin into and through the HIDTA region for local consumption and en route to national-level markets in the Midwest and Northeast, including Chicago and New York. As such, many opportunities exist for the interdiction of drugs and illicit proceeds in the region--and recent seizures highlight the importance of interdiction programs in the HIDTA region. For example, in March 2010, the Iowa State Patrol seized approximately $870,500 on I-80 in Pottawattamie County from a private vehicle en route to Las Vegas from Minnesota. In addition, in January 2008, law enforcement officials seized 3 pounds of methamphetamine and $384,000 from a private vehicle en route from San Diego to Grand Island/Greeley, Nebraska. Based on this traffic stop, Tri-City Drug Task Force members developed an investigation of a Mexican DTO operating in California, Arizona, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska; as a result of investigative efforts from 2008 through 2009, law enforcement officials were able to seize 3.37 kilograms of methamphetamine, 9 firearms, and $421,000.
Figure 5. Midwest HIDTA Transportation Infrastructure
African American, Asian, Caucasian, and Hispanic street gangs, criminal groups, and independent dealers transport powder and crack cocaine, Mexican marijuana, and PCP to the region, but less frequently than in the past. These local, retail-level distributors avoid the risk of interdiction and law enforcement detection by purchasing illicit drugs from Mexican wholesalers in Garden City, Kansas City, Omaha, and Wichita. African American street gang members based in Chicago, Detroit, and Minneapolis also transport crack and powder cocaine and marijuana to metropolitan areas in Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Asian trafficking groups transport MDMA and Canadian marijuana into and through the HIDTA region. Additionally, Caucasian trafficking groups transport Mexican and Canadian marijuana, Mexican methamphetamine, and limited quantities of MDMA to the region.
f. These data (as of March 2010) include all methamphetamine laboratories; dumpsites; and chemicals, glassware, and equipment seized by federal, state, and local authorities and reported to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC).
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