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National Drug Intelligence Center
District of Columbia Drug Threat Assessment
Methamphetamine is increasingly available and abused, but is not yet a serious problem in the District. Methamphetamine is less often abused than cocaine, heroin, or marijuana. Law enforcement officials in the District seize gram and ounce quantities much more frequently than pound quantities. Most methamphetamine available in D.C. is produced in southwestern states using the hydriodic acid/red phosphorus method; however, methamphetamine produced using the phenyl-2-propanone (P2P) method is also available. Most methamphetamine transported to and seized in D.C. is destined for distribution in surrounding states. Wholesale distribution of methamphetamine in D.C. is limited and is usually controlled by Mexican criminal groups and, to a lesser extent, Asian, Colombian, and Middle Eastern criminal groups. Various groups distribute methamphetamine at the retail level in the District including teenagers and young adults that distribute the drug at raves and nightclubs.
ED and treatment data indicate that the level of methamphetamine abuse is not yet significant in the District. The number of ED mentions for methamphetamine in D.C. fluctuated from 1993 through 2000 (more than tripling from 20 in 1993 to 62 in 2000), but remained significantly lower than the number of ED mentions in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles (1,375), San Diego (747), and Phoenix (600). The number of ED mentions for methamphetamine is significantly lower than the number of cocaine (see Table 2 in Cocaine section.), heroin (see Table 5 in Heroin section.), or marijuana (see Table 8 in Marijuana section.) ED mentions in the District. However, D.C. had five drug-related deaths in which methamphetamine was mentioned in 1999, more than the previous 3 years combined. The District had five treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities for methamphetamine abuse in 1999, more than the previous 6 years combined (one admission from 1993 through 1998), according to TEDS data.
The number of male arrestees tested for drug abuse who tested positive for methamphetamine abuse in D.C. in 1999 was very low. Less than 1 percent of adult male (0.9%) arrestees tested for drug abuse tested positive for methamphetamine, according to ADAM data. All were African American males over the age of 36.
The profile of the methamphetamine abuser population in D.C. has expanded recently. Historically, OMGs and blue-collar workers such as truck drivers were the predominant methamphetamine abusers. A new abuser population emerged in 2000 that includes white-collar professionals, business owners, and some members of the lower and lower-middle classes. Teenagers and young adults also abuse methamphetamine, particularly crystal methamphetamine, in combination with other drugs at raves or nightclubs. Crystal methamphetamine--also known as ice--is a colorless, odorless form of smokable d-methamphetamine resembling glass fragments or ice shavings.
Methamphetamine is now more available in D.C. than before FY1998, but it remains a low threat. The Metropolitan Police Department reports that methamphetamine is not as available as other major drugs but is becoming increasingly popular at nightclubs and rave parties. According to FDSS data, law enforcement officers seized 2.6 kilograms of methamphetamine in D.C. in 1998, 0.1 kilogram in FY1999, and 0.5 kilogram in FY2000. In response to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey 2001, the U.S. Park Police reported seizures of approximately 22 grams of methamphetamine in D.C. in 1999 and approximately 1.1 grams in 2000. Additionally, the DEA Washington Division reportedly seized crystal methamphetamine in the D.C. metropolitan area in 2001. None of the 37 OCDETF investigations in D.C. from October 1998 to June 2001 were methamphetamine-related.
Methamphetamine sold in D.C. is approximately 70 percent pure, and prices are stable. DEA reports that pound quantities of methamphetamine sold for $13,000 in the Shenandoah Valley region in western Virginia, the closest area to D.C. where pound prices were available in 2001. MAGLOCLEN reports that methamphetamine in D.C. sold for $1,100 to $2,000 per ounce, $225 per eight-ball (one-eighth of an ounce), and $60 to $100 per gram.
Violence is rarely associated with the distribution and abuse of methamphetamine in the District. If the number of methamphetamine abusers increases in D.C., then violence and psychotic episodes will likely increase as well. Chronic methamphetamine abusers often display paranoia, experience hallucinations or mood disturbances, and have a tendency toward violence.
There are no reports that methamphetamine is produced in the District. Most methamphetamine available in D.C. is produced in southwestern states using the hydriodic acid/red phosphorus method. Additional quantities of methamphetamine produced using the P2P method are also available in D.C. but to a lesser extent.
Methamphetamine is transported to D.C. primarily from California and southwestern states in private automobiles, by couriers who bodycarry the drug on trains, buses, and commercial airlines, and through express mail services. For example, during the first quarter of 2001 Metropolitan Police officials seized 70 grams of methamphetamine in a package mailed from California to a post office box in D.C. The DEA Washington Division reports that couriers destined for surrounding states travel on commercial airlines from California to the D.C. metropolitan area several times a week, sometimes smuggling several pounds of methamphetamine per trip.
Mexican criminal groups and to a lesser extent Asian, Colombian, and Middle Eastern criminal groups and OMGs transport methamphetamine to and from the District. Most of the methamphetamine transported through D.C. is destined for distribution in North and South Carolina, among other states, and is transported there by the same means used to transport methamphetamine to the District.
Wholesale distribution of methamphetamine in D.C. is limited and is usually controlled by the same groups that transport the drug to the District. Mexican criminal groups are the dominant wholesale distributors, according to the Metropolitan Police. However, Asian, Colombian, and Middle Eastern criminal groups as well as OMGs also distribute wholesale quantities of methamphetamine. Methamphetamine distributors based in California and Texas with ties to Mexican DTOs and criminal groups sometimes supply wholesale quantities in D.C.
Because law enforcement officials dismantled most of the established Pagans OMG chapters in northern, central, and southeastern Virginia, OMGs are less organized and distribute methamphetamine less frequently than they used to in D.C. However, former Pagans OMG affiliates in the Shenandoah Valley region of western Virginia maintain ties with Pagans OMG members in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey from whom they purchase retail quantities of methamphetamine to distribute in D.C.
Wholesale distributors, with the exception of Asian and Middle Eastern
criminal groups, also distribute methamphetamine at the retail level. In
addition, law enforcement reports suggest that methamphetamine is
distributed and abused by teenagers and young adults at raves and
nightclubs. According to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey 2001, the
U.S. Park Police seized an unspecified quantity of methamphetamine at a
rave in D.C. in 2001.
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