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Wyoming Drug Threat Assessment
Cocaine remains a threat to Wyoming, although not to the same extent as methamphetamine or marijuana. Powdered cocaine and crack cocaine are seized in the state, but not in significant quantities. Law enforcement agencies throughout Wyoming report that Mexican criminal groups control the wholesale distribution of powdered cocaine and the retail distribution of powdered and crack cocaine in Wyoming.
Treatment admissions for cocaine abuse increased between 1997 and 1998, then decreased in 1999. The Wyoming Department of Health, Division of Substance Abuse, reported 61 cocaine treatment admissions in 1997, 92 in 1998, and 71 in 1999. TEDS data also indicate a decrease in admissions for cocaine abuse in 1999. There were 64 admissions for cocaine abuse in 1997, 97 admissions in 1998, and 70 admissions in 1999. Disparities between state and federal reporting on admissions to substance abuse treatment programs are likely to occur because of differences in data collection and reporting methodologies. According to both data sets, the typical cocaine abuser in treatment during 1999 was a Caucasian male between 31 and 50 years of age.
Crack cocaine abuse in Wyoming is not widespread. A review of TEDS information indicates that of the 70 cocaine treatment admissions reported in 1999, 23 were for smoked cocaine abuse. There were 27 admissions to public treatment for smoked cocaine abuse in Wyoming in both 1997 and 1998. Nearly 74 percent of patients admitted for smoked cocaine abuse in 1999 were male, and 95 percent were Caucasian. More than one-third of those admitted to treatment for smoked cocaine abuse in 1999 were between the ages of 21 and 25, while nearly another one-third were between 31 and 35 years of age.
Trends in cocaine abuse among Wyoming youth are mixed. According to the 1999 YRBS, 9.8 percent of Wyoming respondents reported using some form of cocaine at least once in their lifetime, higher than the national average of 9.5 percent. However, 3.7 percent of Wyoming respondents reported current cocaine use, compared with 4 percent nationally. This represents a decline from 1995, when the YRBS indicates that 4.7 percent of Wyoming respondents reported current cocaine use. In 1999 abuse levels in both categories were higher for males than for females.
Cocaine is linked to few drug-related deaths in Wyoming. According to DAWN ME data, there have been only two cocaine-related deaths in Casper since 1996. The most recent death occurred in 1999.
Cocaine is available throughout Wyoming, particularly in the urban areas of Casper and Cheyenne, but to a lesser degree than methamphetamine. DEA notes that cocaine is being replaced by methamphetamine as the stimulant of choice. During 2000 Wyoming DCI seized approximately 3.5 kilograms of powdered cocaine, more than 80 grams of crack cocaine, and arrested 51 individuals on cocaine-related charges. From 1998 through 2000 the Wyoming DCI conducted 110 cocaine-related investigations; almost all occurred in urban areas.
Cocaine prices have remained stable since 1998. A kilogram--when available--can cost from $21,000 to $23,000. An ounce of powdered cocaine sells for $1,000 to $1,200, one-eighth of an ounce for $200 to $275, and a gram of powdered cocaine sells for approximately $100, according to DEA. Crack cocaine, which sells for $50 to $100 per gram and $25 to $40 per rock, is available on a limited basis in Cheyenne and Casper. Purity levels for powdered and crack cocaine were not available.
There are few reported occurrences of violence associated with cocaine distribution and abuse in Wyoming. While wholesale and retail cocaine distributors in other parts of the country often are noted for committing violent acts in order to protect their territory, Wyoming appears to be an exception. However, cocaine abusers do occasionally commit violent acts such as assaults, homicides, and rapes.
There is no coca cultivated or cocaine produced in Wyoming. Within the state, some Mexican criminal groups convert powdered cocaine to crack for retail distribution while individual abusers convert powdered cocaine to crack for personal use, usually at or near the point of distribution or consumption.
Mexican criminal groups control transportation of powdered cocaine in Wyoming. Law enforcement agencies indicate that cocaine typically is transported to Wyoming from distribution centers such as Denver and Greeley, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Seattle, Washington. In 2000 DEA indicated that cocaine available in western Wyoming generally was transported from Salt Lake City, while cocaine available in the eastern part of the state generally was transported from Denver.
Various means are used to
transport cocaine to Wyoming.
Interstate 25 from the Southwest, I-80
from California, and I-90 from Washington are
the most frequently used cocaine transportation routes.
Commercial buses and private vehicles are the
most common methods of transporting cocaine.
Hidden compartments in private vehicles were
once the usual means of concealing powdered cocaine.
However, Wyoming DCI reports that in recent
years criminal groups have favored transporting cocaine
in luggage in the trunks of vehicles. Package
delivery services and commercial aircraft also
are used to transport cocaine to Wyoming.
Mexican criminal groups transport powdered cocaine destined for other states through Wyoming. Operation Pipeline 2000 data indicate that there were two seizures of cocaine in Wyoming yielding almost 3.2 kilograms of the drug. These shipments were destined for other states. There were no seizures of cocaine reported to EPIC in 1999.
Mexican criminal groups are the primary wholesale and retail distributors of powdered cocaine in Wyoming and are the primary retailers of crack cocaine. Wholesale distributors typically sell powdered cocaine in pound quantities. At the retail level, powdered cocaine and crack cocaine are sold from private residences and local bars rather than open-air drug markets. Retail distributors typically sell powdered cocaine in 1-ounce or smaller quantities, and crack cocaine is sold by the rock or by the gram. While Mexican criminal groups control most retail powdered cocaine distribution, retail distribution by Caucasian independent dealers increased in 1999.
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