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Kentucky Drug Threat Assessment
Publication Date: July 2002
Document ID: 2002-S0382KY-001
Archived on: January 1, 2006. This document may contain dated information. It remains available to provide access to historical materials.
This report is a joint strategic assessment between NDIC and the Kentucky State Police that addresses the status and outlook of the drug threat to Kentucky. Analytical judgment determined the threat posed by each drug type or category, taking into account the most current quantitative and qualitative information on availability, demand, production or cultivation, transportation, and distribution, as well as the effects of a particular drug on abusers and society as a whole. While NDIC sought to incorporate the latest available information, a time lag often exists between collection and publication of data, particularly demand-related data sets. NDIC anticipates that this drug threat assessment will be useful to policymakers, law enforcement personnel, and treatment providers at the federal, state, and local levels because it draws upon a broad range of information sources to describe and analyze the drug threat to Kentucky.
Your questions, comments, and suggestions for future subjects are welcome at any time. Addresses are provided at the end of the page.
Other Dangerous Drugs
List of Tables
Table 1. Methamphetamine Laboratory Seizures, Kentucky, FY1998-FY2001
The production, distribution, and abuse of illicit drugs pose a serious threat to Kentucky. Most illicit drugs are readily available in the state, and the number of drug-related arrests, seizures, and treatment admissions has increased dramatically. The level of methamphetamine production, distribution, abuse, and violence has increased substantially, particularly in the rural areas of the state. Cocaine poses a significant threat to most metropolitan areas of the state because it is abused at high levels, is increasingly available, and its distribution and abuse are frequently associated with violent crime. Marijuana also poses a considerable threat to Kentucky and surrounding states because it is the most prevalent illicit drug, it accounts for more drug-related treatment admissions than any other drug, and a significant amount of the nation's marijuana is produced in the state. Diverted pharmaceuticals, club drugs such as MDMA and GHB, and hallucinogens are increasingly available and abused. The distribution and abuse of heroin pose a low threat to the state.
Methamphetamine is the most rapidly emerging threat to Kentucky, particularly in the rural areas of the state. The level of methamphetamine production, distribution, abuse, and violence has increased dramatically and is spreading across the state from west to east. The number of treatment admissions for methamphetamine abuse in Kentucky increased 42 percent from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2000, more than for any other drug. Mexican criminal groups are the primary transporters and wholesale distributors of Mexico-produced methamphetamine and methamphetamine produced in California and southwestern states. The recent increase of locally produced methamphetamine may have eclipsed the amount of Mexico-produced methamphetamine transported into the state. The number of methamphetamine laboratories seized increased dramatically from 1998 through 2001, exceeding the capacity of local law enforcement agencies to adequately conduct investigations and clean up the hazardous chemicals associated with methamphetamine production. The Birch reduction method, also known as the Nazi method, is the most common methamphetamine production method used in Kentucky. Local independent Caucasian dealers and criminal groups dominate the retail distribution of methamphetamine in the state. Methamphetamine sales usually are prearranged and occur in bars, restaurants, private vehicles, and residences.
Cocaine, both powdered and crack, is increasingly available, frequently abused, and poses the greatest threat to most metropolitan areas in Kentucky. The number of treatment admissions for powdered cocaine in the state fluctuated at high levels from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2000, while the number of admissions for crack increased 31 percent during that period. The distribution and abuse of cocaine are frequently associated with violent crime. Most of the powdered cocaine available in the state is transported from Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas by Mexican and African American criminal groups. Caucasian, Mexican, and African American criminal groups are the dominant distributors of wholesale quantities of powdered cocaine in the state. Caucasian criminal groups and local independent dealers are the primary retail distributors of powdered cocaine in Kentucky, and local African American gangs, among others, also distribute retail quantities. Wholesale distribution of crack cocaine rarely occurs in the state. Retail crack cocaine distribution, once dominated by African American distributors, increasingly involves Caucasian distributors as well. Cocaine sales are usually arranged by phone or in person and take place in private residences, bars, and restaurants.
Marijuana is the most widely available and frequently abused illicit drug in Kentucky; it remains the foremost cash crop throughout the state. Growers are increasingly using violence to protect themselves and their crop in the state. Nearly 50 percent of all drug treatment admissions in Kentucky from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2000 were marijuana-related--more than for any other drug--and the number of treatment admissions for marijuana abuse increased 27 percent from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2000. Cannabis is more commonly cultivated outdoors in Kentucky, but the number of indoor cannabis grows is increasing. Kentucky ranked among the top three states in the nation for the number of cannabis plants eradicated each year from 1998 through 2000. In 2000 over 460,000 cannabis plants were eradicated in Kentucky, ranking it third behind California and Hawaii, respectively. Local independent Caucasian producers cultivate most of the marijuana available in the state and are the dominant wholesale distributors of locally produced marijuana. Local independent producers also distribute Mexico-produced marijuana, often using it as filler for their product. Mexican criminal groups--the primary transporters of Mexico-produced marijuana into Kentucky--usually sell wholesale quantities to local independent Caucasian dealers, who are the dominant retail distributors of Mexico-produced marijuana. Local independent Caucasian dealers also are the dominant retail distributors of locally produced marijuana. Retail marijuana sales usually occur in private residences, bars, and restaurants in the state.
Other dangerous drugs, especially diverted pharmaceuticals, club drugs, and hallucinogens, are an increasing threat to Kentucky. Pharmaceutical diversion investigations were once limited to individuals but now include multiperson enterprises. The number of treatment admissions in Kentucky for abuse of oxycodone--mostly OxyContin and Percocet--increased 163 percent from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2000. The increased level of diverted pharmaceutical distribution and abuse has become so significant that the Kentucky Cabinet for Health Services developed computer software to help physicians, pharmacists, and law enforcement authorities identify patterns of abuse. The abuse of hallucinogens such as ketamine, LSD, and psilocybin mushrooms and of club drugs, especially GHB and MDMA, is increasing. Club drugs and hallucinogens are popular at raves and dance clubs where the drugs are readily available and frequently abused. Peer pressure and cultural myths surrounding the use of club drugs continue to undermine the warnings of healthcare professionals regarding the serious side effects associated with these drugs.
Heroin poses a low threat to Kentucky because it is rarely available or abused in the state. Heroin availability is limited primarily to urban areas, and information regarding the heroin threat in other areas of the state is largely negligible. Most of the heroin available in Kentucky is produced in Mexico. South American heroin, which on average is higher purity than Mexican, is available in at least one area of the state. Local independent Caucasian dealers, the dominant heroin distributors in the state, transport most of the heroin into Kentucky from major cities such as Chicago, Cincinnati, Dayton, Detroit, and New York. Mexican criminal groups also distribute heroin in the state but to an even lesser extent.
National Drug Intelligence Center
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Johnstown, PA 15901
Tel. (814) 532-4601
FAX (814) 532-4690
National Drug Intelligence Center
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McLean, VA 22102-3840
Tel. (703) 556-8970
FAX (703) 556-7807
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