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Indiana Drug Threat Assessment
The availability of powdered cocaine and the subsequent conversion, distribution, and abuse of crack cocaine are significant drug threats in Indiana. Mexican DTOs are the primary transporters and wholesale distributors of powdered cocaine. Other criminal groups or individuals with family and business ties to the Southwest Border area also transport, store, and distribute powdered cocaine. African American and Hispanic street gangs as well as independent dealers control crack cocaine retail distribution. Because of the connection with street gangs, crack cocaine is the drug most often associated with violent crime throughout the state.
Overall, abuse of crack cocaine is increasing in Indiana, but at a slower rate than in previous years. The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana reports that crack cocaine continues to dominate the drug market in the district and that the abuse rate is equally formidable. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana reports that abuse of crack cocaine increased in 2000. ADAM statistics show an 8.5 percent increase in arrestees testing positive for cocaine abuse, from 30 percent in 1997 to 35 percent in 1998.
Cocaine abuse among youth, however, appears to be declining. According to the 1999 Indiana University Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use by Indiana Children and Adolescents study conducted by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, cocaine abuse decreased among youth in grades 7 through 12.
The availability of powdered and crack cocaine is increasing in Indiana. Both forms of cocaine are readily available in urban areas and are beginning to spread to smaller communities and rural areas. The Indianapolis Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) District Office reports that powdered cocaine is available throughout the northern part of the state and crack cocaine is prevalent in Gary, South Bend, and Fort Wayne. The DEA also reports that crack cocaine is available in Indianapolis and rural southern Indiana. Most of the Police Departments in smaller cities such as Evansville, Terre Haute, and Bloomington and Sheriff's offices in rural counties like St. Joseph, Allen, Delaware, and Vanderburgh report an increase in powdered and crack cocaine availability.
All Indiana law enforcement officials responding to the 2000 National Drug Threat Survey report increases in powdered and crack cocaine-related investigations, arrests, and seizures. The Allen and Delaware County Sheriff's Departments and the South Bend Police Department all report that crack-related investigations, arrests, and seizures increased in 1999. U.S. Customs Service (USCS) cocaine seizure events in Indianapolis rose 15 percent, from 6 in 1998 to 15 in 1999. Powdered cocaine samples examined by the Indiana State Crime Laboratory increased 22 percent, from 1,245 in 1998 to 1,522 in 1999, while crack cocaine submissions increased 13 percent, from 2,012 to 2,273. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, arrests for crack cocaine offenses in Indiana rose 77 percent, from 35 in 1995 to 62 in 1998.
Price and purity statistics indicate an increase in powdered and crack cocaine availability in Indiana. Powdered and crack cocaine purity levels generally range from 80 to 95 percent, and though relatively stable, cocaine prices decreased slightly from $90 to $85 per gram (powder) and from $25 to $20 per rock (crack) between 1995 and 1999. The Evansville Police Department reports that powdered cocaine seized in the city in 1999 was routinely 80 percent pure and that, since then, purity levels have increased. Crack purity in Evansville averages 85 to 90 percent. The Marion County Sheriff's Department reports that it routinely seizes cocaine with an average purity of 85 percent, adding that, increasingly, seized cocaine is of even higher purity and in greater quantities. The Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Department reports that seizures have increased and that cocaine prices have decreased, indicating an increase in cocaine supply. The DEA Chicago Field Division indicates that the availability of powdered and crack cocaine increased in Indiana during the first quarter of 2001.
Violent criminal activity related to the gang distribution of crack cocaine is a significant problem throughout Indiana, especially in urban areas. Three of the 25 U.S. areas with the highest number of gun-related crimes are located in northwestern Indiana, where street gangs, including the Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and Latin Kings, compete for control of the crack cocaine market. Gary, Indiana, was identified as the homicide capital of the United States on numerous occasions during the late 1980s and early 1990s, primarily because of the number of reports of gang warfare. There was one murder per 970 people in Gary in 1997 and more than 70 percent of those murders were directly related to drug distribution or drug abuse. The Lake County HIDTA identifies more than 300 crack houses in the urban areas within its area of responsibility, and the accessibility of these crack houses as well as open-air drug markets is aggravated by the accessibility of guns. In January 1999, a 6-year-old boy in a car seat was shot and killed after his father stole $20 worth of crack cocaine from an Indianapolis drug dealer. The father used the boy and another child as "human shields" as he drove away from the angry drug dealer. Drug-related homicides in other areas of Northern Indiana are increasing as gang members migrate and expand operations. For example, in 1999, several homicides in Kokomo, Indiana, were the result of drug-related gun battles. Smaller cities and towns such as Kokomo are attracting street gangs because drug prices in small towns are generally higher than in urban areas. Homicides in the Southern District have decreased in 2000 and 2001. This may be due in part to the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership--a program designed to reduce violence in the city--and possibly to the control of the retail drug market by local and independent street gangs and not the more organized and violent Chicago-based street gangs.
Crack cocaine distributors use armed countersurveillance personnel, fortified entrances, canines, and booby traps to secure their drug operations, significantly increasing the threat to law enforcement officers. The South Bend Police Department reports that crack retail distributors and abusers are committing an increasing number of robberies, homicides, larcenies, and burglaries. In nearby La Porte, two men committed thefts and armed robberies to support their crack habit. Police say both men drove to Gary with the stolen money to buy crack cocaine. The Delaware County Sheriff's Department reports that the crack trade has resulted in an increase in weapons violations, shooting incidents, and random acts of violence. The Indianapolis Police and Marion County Sheriff's Departments report that although the problems associated with crack distribution and consumption affected their areas later than most other cities, they are now experiencing an increase in violent criminal activity, including homicides.
Street gangs normally transport powdered cocaine and convert it to crack cocaine in urban areas. Local conversion reduces the chance of being apprehended with crack cocaine in transit and helps traffickers avoid the stiffer criminal penalties associated with its possession. The conversion normally takes place in the homes of gang members or in stash houses. Most Indiana law enforcement officials responding to the 2000 National Drug Threat Survey report that powdered cocaine is converted to crack cocaine in their areas. The Fort Wayne and South Bend Police Departments report that approximately 80 percent of the powdered cocaine shipped into their areas is converted to crack cocaine, while the Indianapolis and Evansville Police Departments report that at least 90 percent of the powdered cocaine in their areas is converted locally. A Vigo County Drug Task Force detective reports that gangs transport bulk powdered cocaine and convert it into crack cocaine locally for retail distribution, and the Fort Wayne Police Department specifically identifies Mexican criminal groups and independent gangs as involved in crack conversion.
Federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, including the Fort Wayne and South Bend Police Departments and the Allen and Marion County Sheriff's Departments, report that Mexican DTOs are the primary cocaine transporters in Indiana. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) states that Mexican DTOs are an ever-increasing threat throughout the state, but particularly in the Indianapolis/Marion County metropolitan area. In 1999, five Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigations targeted Mexican DTOs transporting cocaine from the Southwest Border area to Indiana. One investigation targeted a Mexican cocaine trafficking group based in Brownsville, Texas, which shipped thousands of kilograms of cocaine into the United States on boats and in vehicles. During the first quarter of 2000, the DEA Merrillville Resident Office seized 442 kilograms of powdered cocaine from a Mexican DTO.
Independent Caucasian groups, street gangs, and to a lesser extent, outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) also transport powdered cocaine into Indiana, according to state and local law enforcement officials. An Allen County gang investigator reports that the Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords transport cocaine from Chicago and that independent Caucasian dealers and OMGs also transport cocaine into the area. A Gary narcotics detective reports that the Gangster Disciples and the Vice Lords use private vehicles to transport cocaine, while a South Central Narcotics Task Force prosecutor reports that the Vice Lords and a Detroit-based African American gang are the primary cocaine transporters in that area. A 1999 OCDETF investigation uncovered an Indianapolis-based transportation group shipping large quantities of cocaine from Mexico to the Southern District of Indiana for distribution throughout the United States. The group had contacts with an OMG in Indianapolis.
Cocaine transported primarily from Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Florida, and the Southwest Border area is distributed throughout the state primarily through northwestern Indiana. The Lake County HIDTA reports that Mexican DTOs transport large quantities of powdered cocaine into the area from suppliers in Illinois, Michigan, California, Florida, Texas, or directly from Mexico, and an Indianapolis police detective and the Southern District Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) report that Mexican DTOs transport cocaine into that city mostly from Texas and occasionally from Chicago. The Marion County Sheriff's Department, the South Bend and Evansville Police Departments and most authorities responding to the 2000 National Drug Threat Survey report drugs entering their areas from source areas including Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Brownsville, and Florida. Law enforcement successes have resulted in the conviction of eight men in Indianapolis on federal drug charges. The men obtained cocaine from California, Chicago, and Gary and distributed it to midlevel dealers. Also, a federal grand jury indicted 10 South Bend residents who allegedly participated in a major cocaine and crack distribution ring over 8 years. The group distributed 4,950 kilograms of cocaine in northern Indiana, southwestern Michigan, and the Chicago area.
Cocaine is transported throughout Indiana in private vehicles, minivans, and recreational vehicles; tractor-trailers are used primarily for bulk shipments. A South Bend man was arrested for cocaine distribution. According to court documents, the man was transporting bulk quantities of cocaine via tractor-trailer from the McAllen, Texas, area to La Porte County. Transportation groups often use false or hidden compartments in vehicles to conceal drugs. Cocaine has been found stashed in duffel bags in the back of rented vehicles, tucked in the side panels of a minivan, taped in the tires of a new car, and hidden in a washing machine in a moving van. For example, in 2000, Texas Department of Public Safety officials arrested seven people, mostly from northeastern Indiana, on charges of conspiracy to deliver cocaine. The seven were drivers and passengers in a car and minivan, and the cocaine was concealed in duffel bags. The Lake County HIDTA reports that organizations transport powdered cocaine on interstate highways sometimes using numerous vehicles as decoys. The Vigo County Drug Task Force reports that transportation groups use not only vehicles, but also airline passengers concealing drugs either on their person or in their luggage to transport drugs into Indiana.
The Muncie Police Department reports that criminal groups use mail services to deliver powdered and crack cocaine to vacant homes where local retail groups collect the drugs for further distribution. A Vigo County Drug Task Force detective reports that statewide, African American gangs use the postal service to transport cocaine into the Terre Haute area. The Drug Task Force detective further notes that some shipments of cocaine are shipped from California through the mail services.
Mexican DTOs are the primary wholesalers of powdered cocaine in Indiana. The DEA Indianapolis Resident Office and the Lake County HIDTA report that Mexican DTOs dominate wholesale cocaine distribution throughout the state and transport most of the cocaine found in northwestern Indiana. The Fort Wayne and South Bend Police Departments, as well as the Allen and Marion County Sheriff's Departments confirm that Mexican DTOs are the primary wholesalers in their areas. Associates and relatives of DTO members transport, store, and distribute powdered cocaine in northwestern Indiana. This area is a major distribution center for bulk cocaine shipments destined for Indiana. Indianapolis is a secondary distribution center for drugs shipped throughout Indiana because of the city's central location and network of highways connecting it not only to the rest of the state but to the entire region. The AUSA for the Southern District of Indiana reports that while some cocaine is transshipped from Chicago, most is shipped directly from the Southwest Border.
Numerous other criminal groups distribute powdered cocaine on the wholesale level, although to a lesser extent. The Indianapolis Police Department reports that independent African American criminal groups play a significant role in wholesale cocaine distribution in the city. These groups typically transport powdered cocaine to the area, conceal it in storage facilities, and sell it to retail groups that convert it to crack cocaine. The retail groups often distribute crack in areas where the conversion takes place, but they also move the crack cocaine to other stash houses for further distribution and sales. The Chicago-based Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords, as well as the Latin Kings and other Los Angeles-based street gangs, dominate wholesale operations in Vanderburgh, Delaware, Vigo, Madison, Marion, and Evansville Counties. The Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords control cocaine distribution in Gary, and a South Central Narcotics Task Force prosecutor reports that the Vice Lords and a Detroit-based African American gang are the primary cocaine wholesalers in that jurisdiction.
Local independent dealers and the Outlaws Motorcycle Club also distribute cocaine on the wholesale level, primarily in smaller cities and rural locations. The Evansville, Allen, Delaware, and Marion County Sheriff's Departments report that Caucasian local independent dealers and the Outlaws Motorcycle Club distribute cocaine at the wholesale level in their areas.
The primary crack retail distributors in the Northern District are organized street gangs such as the Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and Latin Kings, as well as local independents; however, local or independent street gangs are a more dominant factor in drug distribution in the Southern District. The Lake County HIDTA reports that gangs, specifically the Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Latin Kings, and Renegades, control crack retail distribution in its area of responsibility. Some of the same street gangs that distribute crack cocaine also distribute powdered cocaine. For example, the Gangster Disciples controls powdered and crack cocaine retail distribution operations in Terre Haute and surrounding areas, and the Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and several Hispanic gangs control powdered and crack cocaine retail distribution in Fort Wayne and throughout Allen County. An Allen County investigator reports that members of the Gangster Disciples were recruiting in the suburban and rural areas outside Fort Wayne. The Bloomington Police Department, south of Indianapolis, reports that the Vice Lords travel from Gary--where the Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords control all retail distribution--and Chicago to sell crack.
Local gangs also retail powdered and crack cocaine. The Madison County Drug Task Force reports that most retail distributors are males in their twenties; however, Caucasian distributors retail powdered cocaine, while African American distributors retail crack cocaine. Fort Wayne and Muncie detectives and the Vigo County Drug Task Force report that a mix of Caucasian and African American gangs, usually young males, retail cocaine in their areas. A South Central Narcotics Task Force prosecutor reports that a Detroit-based African American gang is the dominant crack retailer in the area, and an Indianapolis police detective reports that independent African American organizations control crack retail distribution in that city. The Fort Wayne and South Bend Police Departments and the Delaware, Marion and Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Departments report that local gangs retail drugs. A 1999 OCDETF investigation uncovered a violent gang that was distributing large quantities of powdered and crack cocaine and weapons throughout northwestern Indiana.
Crack cocaine retail distribution locations vary throughout Indiana. Local distribution houses or crack houses are a major problem in northeastern Indiana, and crack users from suburban areas and adjacent counties travel to northeastern locations to purchase the drug. A Muncie police detective reports that cocaine retail areas are in southern and eastern Muncie, primarily in and around the city's seven housing projects. Over a 2-month period, the Muncie/Delaware County Drug Task Force raided five crack houses and three other homes belonging to independent criminal groups. An Allen County gang investigator reports that cocaine retail areas are located in the southeastern or southern quadrants of Fort Wayne. These areas are controlled by the Gangster Disciples and Vice Lords, which usually operate from large housing areas in southeastern Fort Wayne. In Terre Haute, the primary drug markets are in the center of the city, primarily in low-income housing areas. Crack retail sales are conducted throughout Bloomington, although usually from apartment complexes in the northwestern and south central areas. An Indianapolis police detective reports that retail crack sales primarily occur on the east side; however, crack is available throughout the city. In Gary, retail crack sales primarily occur in the Bronx/Concord, Glen Park, Midtown, and East Side or Valley areas.
The Lake County HIDTA reports that retail distributors typically sell crack cocaine from their own homes or from abandoned houses. Crack cocaine distributors use armed countersurveillance personnel, fortified entrances, dogs, and booby traps to secure their operations, significantly increasing the threat to law enforcement.
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