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National Drug Intelligence Center


Title:

 Florida Drug Threat Assessment

Publication Date: July 2003

Document ID: 2003-S0381FL-001

Archived on:  January 1, 2006. This document may contain dated information. It remains available to provide access to historical materials.

This report is a strategic assessment that addresses the status and outlook of the drug threat to Florida. Analytical judgment determined the threat posed by each drug type or category, taking into account the most current quantitative and qualitative information on availability, demand, production or cultivation, transportation, and distribution, as well as the effects of a particular drug on abusers and society as a whole. While NDIC sought to incorporate the latest available information, a time lag often exists between collection and publication of data, particularly demand-related data sets. NDIC anticipates that this drug threat assessment will be useful to policymakers, law enforcement personnel, and treatment providers at the federal, state, and local levels because it draws upon a broad range of information sources to describe and analyze the drug threat to Florida.

Your questions, comments, and suggestions for future subjects are welcome at any time.  Addresses are provided at the end of the page.


Contents

Executive Summary

Overview
  Fast Facts

Cocaine
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

Heroin
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

Methamphetamine
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

Marijuana
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

MDMA
  Abuse
  Availability
  Violence
  Production
  Transportation
  Distribution

Other Dangerous Drugs
  GHB and Analogs
  LSD
  Ketamine
  Diverted Pharmaceuticals

Outlook

Sources

List of Tables 

Table 1. Federal Drug Seizures in Kilograms, Florida, 1997-2001
Table 2. Percentage of Adult Male Arrestees Testing Positive for Drug Abuse by Drug Type, Fort Lauderdale and Miami, 2000
Table 3. Substance Abuse-Related Treatment Admissions to Publicly Funded Facilities, Florida, 1997-2001
 


Executive Summary

Florida, particularly South Florida, is a national transportation hub and distribution center for illicit drugs. The state's well-developed transportation infrastructure and proximity to source countries make it ideally suited for the movement of licit and illicit goods. Drugs transported by private vehicle, commercial truck, aircraft, maritime vessel, railcar, and package delivery services have an excellent chance of reaching their destinations because of the volume of traffic moving to and through the state daily.

Cocaine, both powdered and crack, poses a serious threat to Florida. The drug is readily available, commonly abused, and its distribution and abuse are more often associated with violent crime than any other illicit drug in the state. Florida is the primary destination for cocaine smuggled from South America through the Caribbean and into the United States. South Florida and, to a lesser extent, Jacksonville and Tampa serve as regional transportation hubs and transshipment points for multikilogram to multihundred-kilogram quantities of cocaine generally destined for distribution in states east of the Mississippi River. Colombian drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups control cocaine transportation to the state; however, they usually rely on Bahamian, Cuban American, Dominican, Haitian, Jamaican, Puerto Rican, and other Caribbean criminal groups to transport cocaine into Florida. Maritime vessels are the primary conveyances used to transport cocaine into Florida. Colombian drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups are the primary wholesale distributors of powdered cocaine in Florida. The primary criminal groups and gangs that distribute wholesale quantities of crack cocaine in Florida vary by area and include Haitian and Jamaican criminal groups, African American and Hispanic gangs, and local independent Caucasian dealers. Various criminal groups, African American and Hispanic gangs, and Caucasian and African American local independent dealers are the dominant retail distributors of powdered and crack cocaine in Florida. Powdered cocaine often is packaged in plastic bags and distributed at open-air drug markets, private residences, some businesses and offices, parties, nightclubs, and raves or techno parties. Crack cocaine usually is packaged in small plastic bags and distributed at open-air drug markets.

Heroin poses a threat to Florida. The drug is readily available, frequently abused, and the distribution of heroin is occasionally associated with violent crimes such as assault, drive-by shooting, and homicide. South American heroin is most prevalent; however, Mexican black tar heroin and brown powdered heroin also are available, although to a limited degree. Southeast and Southwest Asian heroin are rarely available in Florida. Miami and, to a lesser extent, Orlando are among the primary transportation hubs and transshipment points for South American heroin smuggled into the United States. Colombian drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups control the transportation of South American heroin into Florida using Colombian, Dominican, Jamaican, Puerto Rican and, to a lesser extent, Mexican criminal groups. South American heroin generally is transported into Florida by air, although maritime and overland conveyances also are used. Mexican criminal groups are the dominant transporters of Mexican black tar and Mexican brown powdered heroin into Florida. These groups generally transport the drug into the state in private vehicles and via package delivery services. Colombian criminal groups control the wholesale distribution of South American heroin in Florida; Puerto Rican and Dominican criminal groups, African American and Hispanic gangs, and various local independent dealers are the primary retail distributors. Wholesale quantities of Mexican black tar or brown powdered heroin rarely are available in Florida. Mexican and Puerto Rican criminal groups, Hispanic and African American gangs, and local independent dealers are the primary retail distributors of Mexican black tar and brown powdered heroin in Florida. Retail quantities of heroin usually are packaged in bindles (approximately one-tenth gram folded in tinfoil) and sold at open-air drug markets, from residences and parked vehicles, and in nightclubs, bars, and other clubs. Retail distributors also sell heroin to known associates and often use pagers to arrange meetings with customers.

Methamphetamine poses a serious and increasing threat to Florida and is a major public health problem in some areas of the state. The drug is frequently available and abused in rural areas and is increasingly available and abused in suburban and metropolitan areas. Methamphetamine production, distribution, and abuse often are associated with violent crime. In central Florida, an area that historically has had a significant methamphetamine problem, the availability and abuse of the drug have spread outward from Polk County. Most of the methamphetamine available in this area is produced in high volume laboratories in California, Mexico, and southwestern states using the hydriodic acid/red phosphorus method. Significant quantities of methamphetamine available in Polk and surrounding counties are produced locally, primarily using the Birch reduction method. In northern Florida the number of methamphetamine laboratories has increased as users have learned how to produce the drug. Locally produced methamphetamine is increasingly available and abused in this area, although an increasing amount of methamphetamine produced in Mexico, California, and southwestern states also is available in the state. In southern Florida crystal methamphetamine is frequently seen in clubs and used in combination with other drugs, including MDMA. Mexican drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups, the dominant transporters of methamphetamine, usually smuggle the drug in commercial and private vehicles into Florida from California, Mexico, and southwestern states. Methamphetamine also is transported into the state via couriers on commercial aircraft and via package delivery services from California, Mexico, and southwestern states. Mexican drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups dominate the wholesale distribution of methamphetamine statewide. They typically sell pound quantities of methamphetamine to Caucasian and Mexican criminal groups who then sell ounce quantities to local independent Caucasian and Mexican dealers, the dominant retail distributors in the state. Street gangs such as Latin Kings, Vice Lords, and Sureņos 13 also distribute retail quantities of methamphetamine in Florida. Retail quantities (1 gram to one-quarter gram) of methamphetamine usually are packaged in small plastic bags and sold on street corners and at open-air drug markets, private residences, bars, housing projects, mobile home parks, and occasionally at raves or techno parties. 

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Marijuana is the most widely available and frequently abused illicit drug in Florida. Most of the marijuana available in Florida is produced in Jamaica or Mexico. Significant quantities of marijuana also are produced in Florida and other U.S. states--particularly California and southwestern states--as well as in Canada and Colombia. Marijuana frequently is smuggled to Florida from Jamaica aboard maritime vessels, on private or commercial aircraft, or via package delivery services. Marijuana also is transported from Canada, Mexico, and southwestern states in private vehicles, trucks, via package delivery services, and by couriers or air cargo shipments on commercial airlines. Colombian drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups or groups working on their behalf use the same methods to transport marijuana south from New York into Florida and use couriers or cargo shipments on commercial airlines to smuggle marijuana from South America. Jacksonville and Miami are regional distribution centers for wholesale and retail quantities of marijuana. Jamaican and Mexican criminal groups are the most prominent wholesale distributors of marijuana in Florida; however, no specific organization or group controls wholesale marijuana distribution in the state. Jamaican, Mexican, African American, Caucasian, Cuban and other Caribbean criminal groups; local independent African American and Caucasian dealers; and gangs such as Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings, Vice Lords, and Sureņos 13 are the most prominent midlevel and retail distributors of marijuana in the state. At the retail level marijuana usually is packaged in plastic bags for $5 and $10--known, respectively, as nickel and dime bags--and distributed at low-income housing areas, open-air drug markets, and in economically depressed rural areas in Florida. Marijuana also is sold to established contacts at bars and nightclubs, from some businesses and private homes, and on college, high school, and middle school campuses.

MDMA (also known as ecstasy, Adam, E, X, and XTC) frequently is widely available and abused in Florida. The drug is most prevalent in or near large metropolitan areas including Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa and in cities with major colleges or universities such as Gainesville and Tallahassee. MDMA increasingly is available in smaller cities and towns throughout the state. Most MDMA available in Florida is produced in the Netherlands and Belgium; however, MDMA sometimes is produced locally. Israeli and Russian drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups are the dominant transporters of MDMA into Florida. Western European, Caribbean, Colombian, Dominican and, to a lesser extent, U.S.-based Caucasian criminal groups also transport significant quantities of MDMA into Florida. Most of the MDMA transported into Florida is smuggled from source or transit countries by couriers on passenger airlines or via package delivery services. MDMA occasionally is smuggled aboard maritime vessels arriving from foreign countries, by air freight, or is transported in commercial and private vehicles from other states. South Florida is a regional distribution center for wholesale quantities of MDMA. Israeli, Russian, Colombian, and Western European drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups are the primary wholesale distributors of MDMA in Florida. Dominican, other Caribbean and, to a lesser extent, U.S.-based Caucasian criminal groups also distribute wholesale quantities of MDMA in Florida. Wholesale distributors typically supply multithousand-tablet quantities of MDMA to midlevel distributors who, in turn, supply up to multihundred-tablet quantities to retail distributors. Local independent Caucasian dealers are the primary retail distributors of MDMA in Florida; however, African American criminal groups, gangs, and local independent dealers are increasingly involved in the retail distribution of MDMA. Distributors are usually middle- and upper-class Caucasian teenagers and young adults who often abuse MDMA as well. They typically distribute MDMA tablets at raves or techno parties, private parties, nightclubs, and on high school and college campuses.

Other dangerous drugs such as GHB, LSD, ketamine, and diverted pharmaceuticals are available and abused in Florida, but to a lesser extent than cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and MDMA. However, most federal, state, and local law enforcement officials report that the rate of abuse of these dangerous drugs, particularly pharmaceuticals, is increasing more rapidly than for any other drug. Oxycodone, primarily OxyContin, is one of the most commonly diverted pharmaceuticals in Florida. Hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, and Rohypnol) also are diverted and abused. Diverted pharmaceuticals typically are sold to acquaintances and established customers. Local independent Caucasian dealers, often middle-class suburban teenagers and young adults, generally are the primary distributors and abusers of most other dangerous drugs in Florida. Hallucinogens such as LSD and ketamine and depressants such as GHB and its analogs generally are sold at raves or techno parties, dance clubs, gyms, nightclubs, private parties, high school and college campuses, and over the Internet.

   


Addresses

National Drug Intelligence Center
319 Washington Street, 5th Floor
Johnstown, PA 15901

Tel. (814) 532-4601
FAX (814) 532-4690
E-mail NDIC.Contacts@usdoj.gov

National Drug Intelligence Center
8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 1001
McLean, VA 22102-3840

Tel. (703) 556-8970
FAX (703) 556-7807

Web Addresses

ADNET:  http://ndicosa 
      DOJ:  http://www.usdoj.gov/archive/ndic/
      LEO:  home.leo.gov/lesig/archive/ndic/
     RISS:  ndic.riss.net 


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