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Wyoming Drug Threat Assessment
Wyoming is the least populated state in the nation, with slightly fewer than 500,000 residents. Its population is 92.1 percent Caucasian, 3.2 percent Hispanic, 2.3 percent Native American, 0.9 percent Pacific Islander or other, 0.8 percent African American, and 0.6 percent Asian. With a land area of nearly 98,000 square miles, Wyoming has a population density of about five persons per square mile.
Wyoming is a rural state with diverse geographical features that include the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Utah border Wyoming. Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, located in Wyoming's northwestern corner, contain some of America's most extreme terrain. Cheyenne, located in Wyoming's southeastern corner, is the capital and largest city.
Wyoming's interstate highways facilitate illicit drug transportation and distribution. Interstate 25 extends from the Southwest Border near Las Cruces, New Mexico, and intersects I-70 in Denver, Colorado, and I-80 (an east-west route extending from the San Francisco area to New Jersey) in Cheyenne, Wyoming. In Wyoming, I-25 traverses north through Casper and intersects I-90 near Buffalo. The state connects with Montana to the north and South Dakota to the east via I-90. Wyoming cities along these interstates include Casper, Cheyenne, Evanston, Green River, Laramie, Rock Springs, Sheridan, and Wheatland. Mexican criminal groups use private vehicles, commercial trucks, and commercial buses to transport illicit drugs into Wyoming on these interstates.
The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) coordinates six multiagency drug task forces, known as Regional Enforcement Teams. These task forces are strategically located throughout the state and are composed primarily of state and local law enforcement officers. Special agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Casper Post of Duty and the Cheyenne Resident Office work closely with these Regional Enforcement Teams. Wyoming, as well as Colorado and Utah, is part of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
The 2000 Uniform Crime Report (UCR) indicates that drug-related crime increased in Wyoming from 1999 to 2000. Law enforcement agencies reporting UCR data included 23 sheriff's offices and 43 police departments with jurisdiction over 98.6 percent of Wyoming's population. The UCR shows that drug violation increases from 1999 to 2000 were highest among juvenile females--from 106 to 122 violations--and adult males--from 1,381 to 1,479 violations. Drug violations by juvenile males decreased more than 19 percent, from 448 in 1999 to 362 in 2000. Among adult offenders, the largest increases were in the categories of drug possession by females--from 254 violations in 1999 to 301 in 2000--and drug manufacture and sales by males--from 172 in 1999 to 195 violations in 2000.
Law enforcement authorities often discover firearms while executing search warrants and making drug-related arrests. Authorities seize most firearms inside residences; however, some are seized from motor vehicles or from arrestees. The Wyoming DCI reported that there were 150 firearms seized statewide in drug-related arrests in 1998; 109 seized in 1999; 83 seized in 2000; and 113 seized through July 2001.
The most recent drug abuse indicators in Wyoming are slightly higher
than the national averages in several categories. The 1999 National
Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) indicates that 7.3 percent of
Wyoming residents reported past month use of any illicit drug in 1999,
compared with 6.7 percent nationwide. In Wyoming, 5.8 percent of residents
reported past month marijuana use compared with 5.2 percent nationwide,
and 3.2 percent of residents reported past month use of any other drug,
compared with 3 percent nationwide. High school students in Wyoming were
surveyed as part of the 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which
measures drug abuse among high school students. The YRBS shows that
Wyoming students who responded to the survey reported higher substance
abuse levels than their peers nationwide in 10 of 14 categories. These
categories include, but are not limited to, lifetime tobacco, alcohol,
cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and inhalant use.
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