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Drug Intelligence Center
Connecticut Drug Threat Assessment Update
Heroin poses the greatest drug threat to Connecticut. Of the 47 law enforcement respondents to the National Drug Threat Survey 2002 (see text box) in Connecticut, 23 reported that heroin was a high threat in their jurisdictions. According to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), heroin-related treatment admissions to publicly funded treatment facilities in Connecticut increased from 16,403 in 1999 to 17,878 in 2001. (See Table 1.) The number of admissions related to the abuse of heroin vastly exceeded admissions for any other illegal drug in 2001. In addition, heroin has been a factor in a significant number of deaths in Connecticut. Data from the Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner indicate that in 2001 heroin was a factor in 107 of the 451 deaths involving drugs, more than for any other drug.
Most of the heroin available in Connecticut is produced in South America. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), heroin available in the state was 40 to 95 percent pure in the first quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2003. Federal, state, and local law enforcement officials report that little, if any, Southeast Asian, Southwest Asian, or Mexican brown powdered or black tar heroin is available in Connecticut.
South American heroin is readily available throughout Connecticut in urban and suburban areas. According to Federal-wide Drug Seizure System (FDSS) data, federal law enforcement officials in Connecticut seized 3 kilograms of heroin in 2002. U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) data indicate that the percentage of drug-related federal sentences that were heroin-related in Connecticut (6.2%) was slightly lower than the national percentage (7.2%) in FY2001. (See Table 2.)
In Connecticut heroin sold for $51,000 to $100,000 per kilogram, $1,300 to $4,000 per ounce, $50 to $125 per gram, $50 to $100 per bundle (10 bags), and $5 to $20 per bag in the first quarter of FY2003, according to the DEA Boston Division. (See Table 3.) According to DEA, the purity of heroin distributed at the retail level (bags and bundles) was 65 to 95 percent in Bridgeport and 70 to 80 percent in New Haven in the first quarter of FY2003.
Dominican and Colombian criminal groups are the primary transporters of South American heroin into Connecticut. African American, Puerto Rican, and other Hispanic criminal groups also transport wholesale quantities of South American heroin into the state, albeit to a lesser extent. South American heroin available in Connecticut typically is purchased from Dominican and Colombian criminal groups in New York City, then transported into the state via private and commercial vehicles on Interstates 84, 91, and 95. South American heroin also is transported into the state via package delivery services and, occasionally, by couriers aboard commercial aircraft, or it is concealed among cargo aboard commercial maritime vessels.
Dominican and Colombian criminal groups dominate the wholesale-level distribution of South American heroin in Connecticut. Puerto Rican and other Hispanic criminal groups also distribute South American heroin at the wholesale level, albeit to a lesser extent. Dominican and Puerto Rican criminal groups are the primary retail-level distributors of South American heroin in the state. African American criminal groups as well as local street gangs, commonly known as crews, and local independent dealers of various ethnic backgrounds also distribute retail quantities of South American heroin in the state, although to a lesser extent. Retail-level heroin distribution usually occurs from private vehicles at public parking areas such as malls, restaurants, and shopping centers. To a lesser extent, heroin is distributed from private residences. Law enforcement officials report that heroin is distributed from bars and low-income residences in urban areas. Because of law enforcement pressure, heroin seldom is distributed at open-air drug markets in Connecticut. Heroin sold at the retail level most often is packaged in small glassine bags, many of which are stamped with a logo.
Connecticut serves as a transshipment center for South American heroin destined for Massachusetts and Vermont. Caucasian local independent dealers in those states, primarily individuals who abuse heroin, frequently travel via private vehicles to cities in central Connecticut, such as Hartford, to purchase heroin. These individuals use some of the drug and sell the remainder to abusers in their home states to fund future heroin purchases. In addition, Connecticut-based Dominican criminal groups occasionally travel to Massachusetts and Vermont to distribute heroin to local retail-level distributors.
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