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New Hampshire Drug Threat Assessment
April 2001


The availability, distribution, and abuse of powdered and crack cocaine represent the primary drug threat in New Hampshire. Throughout the state, powdered cocaine is readily available, and crack is moderately available. Purity levels are high, and prices, although high compared to national averages, have remained stable. Crack cocaine is the drug most often associated with violent crime in the state. Massachusetts-based Dominican criminal groups transport cocaine into New Hampshire and dominate its wholesale distribution. In addition, users and independent dealers, primarily Caucasians, transport and distribute small quantities of cocaine, generally for their own use or for resale to friends and associates. Although, currently, retail distribution is largely limited to transactions between independent dealers and users, the Dominican criminal groups who already dominate wholesale distribution appear to be moving into New Hampshire in an attempt to control the retail distribution of cocaine as well.


Abuse of powdered and crack cocaine remains stable. Generally, crack cocaine users live in or around the larger cities along the southern border of the state. According to responses to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey 2000, powdered and crack cocaine were abused moderately to often throughout the state. From 1997 to 1998, powdered and crack cocaine admissions to publicly funded treatment programs have remained relatively stable. According to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), in 1997, there were 115 crack and 71 powdered cocaine admissions for publicly funded treatment in New Hampshire, while in 1998, there were 112 crack and 75 powdered cocaine admissions. According to the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services for Drug Treatment in New Hampshire, crack cocaine admissions increased slightly from 16 in 1997 to 19 in 1998.



Powdered and crack cocaine are available in New Hampshire, most frequently in retail quantities in Concord, Manchester, Nashua, Franklin, Plymouth, Laconia, and many of the state's rural areas. New Hampshire law enforcement responses to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey 2000 indicated that powdered cocaine availability is high, and crack cocaine availability is moderate to high. The Nashua Police Department reported that powdered cocaine averages 70 percent purity at the street level. Concord, Nashua, and Manchester police departments report that the price of powdered cocaine in their districts ranges from $22,000 to $24,000 per kilogram, and crack prices range from $20 to $50 a rock. They also report an increase in the total amount of powdered cocaine and crack seizures in 1999. In 1999, the New Hampshire Drug Task Force seized 2.4 kilograms of cocaine and 240 grams of crack.

Table 1. Cocaine Prices, New Hampshire, 1999

Type Amount Price Range (dollars)
Powdered Cocaine Vial 20
Ounce 725
800 Kilograms 2,300
Crack Cocaine Ounce 700-1,100
1/8 Kilogram 2,800-3,200
Kilogram 22,000-26,000

Source: DEA, State Threat Assessment-New Hampshire, October 1999.

In the spring of 1999, the New Hampshire State Police and the Rochester Police targeted numerous drug dealers in the Rochester and Farmington areas, leading to the arrest of 23 individuals. The investigation yielded approximately 3 ounces of powdered cocaine, 5 grams of crack cocaine, and various other drugs. More importantly, the investigation led authorities to several individuals distributing powdered and crack cocaine in the Manchester area. Over the next 8 months, one-half kilogram of cocaine and a one-quarter ounce of crack were purchased, worth a total street value of $16,000.

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Crack cocaine is the drug most often associated with violent crime. Users often commit violent crimes in order to support their habits. Respondents to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey 2000 indicated an increase in property crimes and assaults in southern New Hampshire, which they believe is due to the abuse of crack cocaine. New Hampshire authorities believe the state experiences little gang-related violence as a result of cocaine distribution. Competition over turf or drug sales seldom occurs, since Massachusetts-Dominican criminal groups dominate distribution.



Cocaine is not produced in New Hampshire. Dominican criminal groups and independent dealers, primarily Caucasians, convert powdered cocaine into crack cocaine in southern New Hampshire because sentences are lengthier for possessing crack than powdered cocaine, so retail distributors produce crack in the areas where it is to be distributed. Users throughout the state then travel to cities in southern New Hampshire to obtain crack cocaine.



Dominican criminal groups operating out of Massachusetts transport most of the cocaine available in New Hampshire. These groups transport the cocaine first from the transportation hub of New York City, then to the distribution centers of Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, and, finally, into retail markets in New Hampshire. Occasionally, these groups will transport cocaine directly from New York City to New Hampshire, though such activity is uncommon. Typically, the cocaine is transported by private automobile using one of three primary routes: Interstates 95 and 93 and Route 3.

A DEA sponsored airport interdiction program, Operation Jetway, has identified Dominican, Colombian, and Nigerian drug groups who move cocaine from the Manchester Municipal Airport. However, Colombian and Nigerian criminal groups do not appear to play a significant role in the transportation of cocaine into New Hampshire. The DEA Concord Resident Office and law enforcement officials from the New Hampshire State Police, the New Hampshire Drug Task Force, and the Rockingham Sheriff's Department provide full-time coverage to the Manchester airport under this program.

New Hampshire's 41-mile border with Canada has only one POE, which is Pittsburg. There is little evidence of any significant level of cocaine smuggling across the border into New Hampshire. The USCS has made few seizures of drugs or currency at this POE. However, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reports that crack and powdered cocaine are smuggled into the United States at all land border crossing points. Law Enforcement reporting indicates that the flow of cocaine across the U.S.-Canada Border actually may be in the northerly direction, as cocaine is traded for quantities of high-quality marijuana from Canada.

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Dominican criminal groups dominate the wholesale distribution of cocaine in New Hampshire. Responses to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey 2000 indicate that Colombian and Caucasian criminal groups are involved in wholesale cocaine distribution in the state; however, these groups do not appear to play a significant role. Typically, Dominican distributors operate from the Massachusetts cities of Lawrence and Lowell. These distributors either transport the cocaine into New Hampshire themselves, or they sell the drug directly to users and independent dealers who have traveled from New Hampshire to obtain cocaine.

The proximity of New Hampshire's urban areas to Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts, facilitates the movement of kilogram quantities of cocaine into the area. In August 1999, the New Hampshire State Police investigated a group of individuals who delivered kilogram quantities of cocaine from Lawrence to New Hampshire's seacoast area, particularly Portsmouth. As the investigation progressed, the Massachusetts State Police located the organization's drug-packaging facility. The investigation ended with the arrest of four individuals and the seizure of more than $17,000, 216 bags of packaged heroin, 2 ounces of powdered cocaine, and various packaging paraphernalia.

The New Hampshire State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Manchester Police Department investigated an individual responsible for distributing multikilograms of crack in the Manchester area. The subject had a sophisticated network of conspirators who distributed cocaine throughout the city. The investigation ended with the arrest of the main suspect and three other individuals.

Within New Hampshire, retail distribution of cocaine typically occurs in the southern portion of the state, primarily Manchester. Retail distribution is largely limited to transactions between independent dealers and users. Currently, organized criminal groups do not appear to be extensively involved in retail distribution of the drug. However, the New Hampshire State Police reports that Dominican criminal groups are moving into New Hampshire from Lawrence, Massachusetts, and establishing crack houses to distribute quantities of crack and powdered cocaine at the retail level.


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