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National Drug Intelligence Center
Delaware Drug Threat Assessment
Cocaine is the second greatest drug threat to Delaware. Powdered cocaine and crack cocaine are readily available and commonly abused, and their distribution and abuse are more commonly associated with violent crime than any other drug in the state. Delaware had the fourth highest rate of cocaine-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities in the nation in 1999. The total annual number of cocaine-related treatment admissions has remained relatively stable, ranking second to heroin since 1996. The number of cocaine-related federal sentences in Delaware far surpassed the number for all other drug-related federal sentences combined every year from FY1998 through FY2000. Local independent African American and Caucasian dealers and Hispanic street gangs are the primary transporters of cocaine into and throughout Delaware. They purchase cocaine, commonly in kilogram quantities, primarily from Dominican and Jamaican criminal groups in New York City and Philadelphia and, to a lesser extent, in Baltimore, Miami, and Washington, D.C., among other locations. Local independent Caucasian dealers are the primary wholesale and retail distributors of powdered cocaine in the state. Local independent African American dealers and Hispanic street gangs are the primary retail distributors of crack--wholesale distribution is rare, except in certain sections of Wilmington.
Cocaine is commonly abused in Delaware. Wilmington and Dover have the highest levels of cocaine abuse in the state, according to state treatment and health survey data. Most law enforcement agencies report that the rate of cocaine abuse is stable at a high level. However, the Dover Police Department reports that the rate of powdered cocaine abuse is slowly increasing in some areas of the city, and other law enforcement agencies report similar increases in the abuse rates of powdered and crack cocaine.
The overall annual rate of cocaine-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities in Delaware is high but relatively stable. The number of cocaine-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities ranked third, after alcohol-related and heroin-related treatment admissions, in 2000. The annual number of treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities for cocaine abuse did not change significantly from 1995 to 2000, according to the state Division of Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Mental Health. The number of crack-related treatment admissions increased over 24 percent from 785 in 1995 to 974 in 2000, while the number of powdered cocaine-related treatment admissions decreased 29 percent from 697 in 1995 to 491 in 2000. (See Table 2 in Overview section.) Delaware ranked fourth in the nation in the rate of treatment admissions with 203 per 100,000 in 1998, according to TEDS data.
The rate of cocaine abuse among high school students in Delaware is lower than the national average. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, approximately 7.2 percent of the students surveyed in Delaware in 1999 reported having abused cocaine at least once in their lifetime, compared with the national average of 9.5 percent. Additionally, 2.7 percent of the students surveyed in Delaware that year reported having abused cocaine in the past month, compared with the national average of 4 percent.
Powdered cocaine and crack cocaine are readily available, particularly in New Castle County. Powdered cocaine increasingly is available in the less populated counties of Kent and Sussex, according to DEA. Crack cocaine generally is more available than powdered cocaine in Wilmington and other urban areas, according to local law enforcement officials.
Wholesale and retail price and purity levels for powdered cocaine were relatively stable from 1997 to 2001, indicating a steady supply in the state. A kilogram of powdered cocaine in Delaware sold for $23,000 to $28,000 with an average purity of 85 percent in 2001, according to DEA. An ounce of powdered cocaine sold for $800 to $1,200, and a gram of powdered cocaine sold for $100 to $120 in 2001. Ounce and gram purity levels were between 60 and 80 percent that year.
Wholesale and retail prices and purity levels for crack were relatively stable from 1997 through 2001. A kilogram of crack, available primarily in Wilmington and Dover, sold for $24,000 to $30,000 with an average purity of 79 percent in 2001, according to local law enforcement data. An ounce of crack sold for $800 to $1,250 with an average purity of 79 percent in 2001. A rock of crack sold for $10 to $25 with an average purity of 25 percent that year.
The amount of cocaine seized in the state peaked in FY1998 at 158.6 kilograms, then decreased, according to FDSS data. (See Table 3 in Overview section.) The increase in the amount seized was not due to one large seizure.
Most drug-related federal sentences in Delaware are cocaine-related. Each year from FY1998 through FY2000 the number of cocaine-related federal sentences surpassed the number for all other drug-related sentences combined. However, the number of cocaine-related federal sentences decreased from 30 in FY1998 to 21 in FY1999 to 16 in FY2000, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
The distribution and abuse of cocaine, particularly crack, are associated with violent crime more frequently than any other drug in Delaware. The Dover Police Department reports that a large number of assaults are related to the distribution of crack. Law enforcement officials in Wilmington report that cocaine distributors on the city's east side use violence to protect their market and product. In addition, local independent dealers, street gangs, and OMGs that distribute cocaine in Wilmington have committed homicides.
A Smyrna jury convicted a 29-year-old male crack abuser of first-degree murder in October 1999 for strangling his pregnant wife 2 days before she was to give birth. Additionally, law enforcement officers arrested a female from Claymont in 1999 for putting cocaine in her 5-month-old daughter's formula. The child subsequently died, and the female was charged with murder.
Coca is not cultivated nor is cocaine produced in Delaware. Most of the cocaine sold in Delaware is produced in South America, transshipped through New York City and Philadelphia to Delaware, and converted from powdered cocaine to crack. Distributors are aware that federal sentences for distribution or possession of crack are more stringent than those for distribution or possession of powdered cocaine; consequently, they convert powder into crack in small quantities only as needed.
Local independent African American and Caucasian dealers and Hispanic street gangs are the primary transporters of cocaine into and throughout Delaware. These dealers and street gangs reportedly transport wholesale and retail quantities of cocaine from New York City and Philadelphia and, to a lesser extent, Baltimore, Miami, Washington, D.C., and other locations to Delaware in private and commercial vehicles. They all transport cocaine on US 13 and 113, SR-1, and I-95, according to law enforcement officials in Delaware. In April 1997 two males pleaded guilty to selling drugs and laundering money. They transported cocaine from New York to Delaware in rented limousines.
Some Dominican criminal groups based in New York City and Philadelphia transport cocaine, primarily in private vehicles, through Delaware on I-95 to Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and other states. Dominican criminal groups in New York City commonly travel on US 13 through Delaware to Maryland and Virginia in an attempt to avoid law enforcement detection on the interstates.
Colombian DTOs occasionally smuggle cocaine through the Port of Wilmington. Dominican criminal groups in Wilmington usually offload the cocaine to tractor-trailers for further transport to Baltimore, New York City, and Philadelphia. For example, U.S. Customs Service (USCS) inspectors in Wilmington seized 21 kilograms of cocaine from a refrigerated cargo container on the M/V Dole Honduras arriving from Santa Marta, Colombia, in March 1997. Additionally, USCS inspectors seized 106 kilograms of cocaine from the rudder compartment of the M/V Kishore arriving from Colombia in September 1998. Both of these shipments were destined for states other than Delaware.
Local independent Caucasian dealers are the primary wholesale and retail distributors of powdered cocaine in the state. Local independent African American dealers and Hispanic street gangs are the primary retail distributors of crack--wholesale distribution is rare, except in certain sections of Wilmington. Retail quantities of cocaine commonly are distributed in the low-income areas of Wilmington. Members of the Pagans OMG also distribute retail quantities of crack. Local independent dealers purchase powdered cocaine, commonly in kilogram quantities from Dominican and Jamaican criminal groups in New York City and Philadelphia and, to a lesser extent, in Baltimore, Miami, and Washington, D.C. Kilogram quantities of cocaine are cut and packaged in ounce or multiounce quantities that are distributed at open-air markets or from trailers, private homes, and bars particularly in the more rural areas of the state.
In October 2000 the Delaware State Police arrested a cocaine distributor in Sussex County. This distributor ran multiple "stash" locations where kilogram quantities of powdered cocaine and gram quantities of crack were cut and packaged for retail distribution in Georgetown, West Rehoboth, and other cities in Sussex County. Additionally, federal and state task force officers arrested a cocaine dealer in Bear, located in New Castle County, and seized 1.1 kilograms of cocaine and $252,000 in cash and firearms on October 15, 1998. This individual reportedly was one of the principal cocaine distributors in Delaware.
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