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California Central District Drug Threat Assessment
May 2001


The Central District will continue to be a major storage location, transshipment point, and distribution center for drugs. Likewise, Los Angeles will remain a primary transshipment point for drug trafficking, as drugs are moved into the city and on to other cities throughout the United States. Traffickers will move smaller shipments of drugs into the district in an effort to avoid large-scale losses. High levels of drug trafficking activity will continue throughout the district, due in large part to its extensive transportation infrastructure and its proximity to the Southwest Border.

Cocaine and methamphetamine will continue to be the area's primary drug threats, with Mexican DTOs and criminal groups remaining the primary smugglers and wholesale distributors of cocaine supplied by Colombian DTOs. The price and purity of powdered cocaine will remain relatively steady, and crack cocaine will continue to be distributed at the retail level by African American and Hispanic street gangs.

As the production and distribution of methamphetamine increases in the Central District, the dangers associated with the drug will grow exponentially. Methamphetamine production increases the potential for dangers not only to the cookers, but also to the residents of surrounding areas and to the environment. Local budgets will be squeezed by the costly cleanup of hazardous by-products.

Many large-scale methamphetamine laboratories will be relocated to areas outside the Central District because of intensified law enforcement efforts. Areas to the north and east of the district likely will see an increase in the number of large-scale methamphetamine laboratories. Smaller stovetop methamphetamine laboratories, however, will continue to operate throughout the district, since smaller laboratories are easier to assemble and more difficult for law enforcement to detect.

Mexican heroin will continue to dominate the heroin market in the Central District. The higher purity levels of Mexican black tar heroin may make it more attractive to new users, particularly young adults, who are open to drug experimentation. Heroin trafficking groups most likely will continue to use the district as both a transshipment point and distribution center. Colombian DTOs may make a greater push to establish South American heroin in the district. Most likely, Asian heroin will continue to be transshipped through the Los Angeles area to other U.S. cities, particularly via overnight mail and parcel services.

Marijuana smuggled from Mexico and domestically grown cannabis will continue to pose a threat to the district. Mexican marijuana will remain the most prevalent type available, though domestically grown cannabis is likely to increase in availability. Indoor cannabis cultivation will continue throughout the district. This, too, is likely to increase as growers attempt to produce more potent marijuana.

With the growing popularity of raves, the use of club drugs--particularly MDMA, GHB, Rohypnol, and ketamine--will expand throughout the Central District. The potential for an increase in the number of overdoses exists because these drugs often are mixed with alcohol, other drugs, or both. The erroneous perception that there is less risk involved with the use of club drugs is a significant obstacle in the fight against these drugs.

Violence associated with the activities of Mexican DTOs will continue in the district. The increasing presence of Colombian and Russian criminal groups could lead to confrontations among groups battling for control of the drug trade. Paralleling a national trend, DTOs will relocate large drug operations outside the district to increase profits in new, smaller markets and to escape intensified law enforcement efforts. For the same reasons, African American and Hispanic street gangs will expand to new markets in rural areas located throughout the district. The competition for new markets may result in gang violence emerging in smaller communities that have never before encountered such activity.


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