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NDIC seal linked to Home page. National Drug Intelligence Center
Connecticut Drug Threat Assessment Update
July 2003


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.

National Drug Threat Survey

The National Drug Threat Survey (NDTS) 2002 was administered by NDIC to a representative sample of state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the United States to assess the availability, abuse, and overall threat posed by all major drugs. NDIC received 2,906 survey responses from law enforcement agencies, an overall response rate of 80 percent. Survey respondents were asked to rank the greatest drug threats in their areas and to indicate the level of availability for each major drug type. They also were asked to provide information on specific groups involved in the transportation and distribution of illicit drugs. Responding agencies also provided narrative assessments of various aspects of the overall drug situation and the threat that specific drugs posed to their areas. Survey responses are used by NDIC to substantiate and augment drug threat information obtained from other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.



Table 1. Drug-Related Treatment Admissions to Publicly Funded Facilities, Connecticut, 1999-2001
  *Total Admissions Heroin Cocaine Marijuana Opiates Amphet-
1999 27,271 16,403 6,324 3,647 459   32   406
2000 28,214 17,323 5,722 3,917 674   41   537
2001 29,393 17,878 5,573 3,782 899 128 1,133

*Does not include admissions for alcohol abuse.
**Nationwide, methamphetamine-related admissions account for 95 percent of the amphetamine-related admissions reported to TEDS.
Source: Treatment Episode Data Set.

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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.)

Limitations of Seizure and Sentencing Data

Seizure and federal sentencing data most likely do not render an accurate portrayal of illicit drug availability in Connecticut. Federal drug seizures in the state often fall below minimum FDSS reporting thresholds: 100 grams of heroin, 500 grams of cocaine, 25 kilograms of marijuana, and 250 grams of methamphetamine. In addition, there is no central repository to record drug seizures made by local law enforcement officials. Further, most drug violations in the state primarily involve retail-level quantities and, therefore, often do not rise to a level that warrants federal investigation or prosecution.


Table 2. Percentage of Drug-Related Federal Sentences by Drug Type, Connecticut and United States, FY2001
  All Drugs Heroin Powdered Cocaine Crack Cocaine Marijuana Metham-
United States 41.2 7.2 22.1 20.4 32.8 14.2 3.2
Connecticut 39.6 6.2 21.2 38.1 28.3   0.0 6.2

Source: U.S. Sentencing Commission.

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.

Table 3. Heroin Prices, Connecticut, First Quarter FY2003
  Bridgeport Hartford New Haven
Kilogram $51,000-$65,000 $90,000 $90,000-$100,000
Ounce $1,300 $3,000-$4,000 $4,000
Gram NA $110-$125 $50-$75
Bundle (10 bags) $100 $65-$80 $50-$75
Bag $10-$20 $10 $5-$10

Source: Drug Enforcement Administration Boston Division.

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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.

Drug Seizures Along I-84

From December 6, 2002, to January 3, 2003, Connecticut State Police officers made four separate drug seizures involving commuter vans within a 2-mile span of I-84 in northwestern Connecticut. Officials seized more than 3 kilograms of heroin, 200 grams of cocaine, and small amounts of marijuana. The drugs often were concealed in lunch-sized paper bags or large plastic bags and placed under the seats of the vans so the drugs could not be connected to any particular individual. The commuter vans were all traveling from New York City to Boston.

Source: Connecticut State Police.

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.

Beep-and-Meet Distribution

Wholesale- and retail-level drug distributors in Connecticut often use cellular phones, instant messaging services, and beepers to establish times and places to exchange illegal drugs and money with other distributors and abusers. The individuals meet at prearranged locations--usually high-traffic areas such as mall, shopping center, and restaurant parking lots located near highways--and quickly exchange drugs for money.

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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