ARCHIVED To Contents To Previous Page To Next Page To Publications Page To Home Page
|National Drug Intelligence Center
National Drug Threat Assessment 2005
Scope and Methodology
The National Drug Threat Assessment 2005 is a comprehensive assessment of the threat posed to the United States by the trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs. It was prepared through detailed analysis of the most recently available reporting from law enforcement, intelligence, and public health agencies. A critical component of this undertaking was information provided by more than 3,400 state and local law enforcement agencies through the National Drug Intelligence Center's National Drug Threat Survey 2004. Details on the survey methodology and survey sample are provided in Appendix A. State and local law enforcement agencies also provided information through personal interviews with National Drug Intelligence Center Field Program Specialists, a nationwide network of law enforcement professionals assembled by NDIC to promote information sharing among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
This report addresses the trafficking and use of primary substances of abuse as well as the laundering of proceeds generated through illicit drug sales. Major substances of abuse are discussed in terms of their availability, demand, production and cultivation, transportation, and distribution. Primary Market Areas for each drug are identified and addressed in the report (see Figure 1). Primary Market Areas for cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and MDMA are both leading consumption areas and leading distribution centers for the drugs as determined through analysis of public health data and law enforcement reporting. Primary Market Areas for marijuana were determined based on distribution alone because rates of marijuana use are relatively high and stable in markets throughout the country.
Availability. To evaluate the availability of illicit drugs, analysts considered quantitative information on seizures, investigations, arrests, law enforcement surveys, laboratory analysis, drug purity or potency, and price. Qualitative data, such as the subjective views of individual agencies on availability and the relationship between individual drugs and crime, particularly violent crime, also were considered.
Demand. The evaluation of the domestic demand for illicit drugs was based on accepted interagency estimates and data captured in national substance abuse indicators. Quantitative and qualitative information that was evaluated include the estimated number of total users, prevalence of drug use among various age groups, emergency department information, and admissions to treatment facilities. The differing methodologies applied by national substance abuse indicators, as well as their inherent limitations, were considered and addressed in assessing domestic drug demand. (Data from selected national substance abuse indicators are provided in Appendix B).
Production and Cultivation. To evaluate illicit drug production and cultivation, analysts considered accepted interagency estimates. Qualitative information pertaining to the presence and level of domestic and foreign activity, general trends in production or cultivation levels, involvement of organized criminal groups, toxicity and other related safety hazards, environmental effects, and associated criminal activity were also considered.
Transportation. To evaluate illicit drug transportation, analysts evaluated interagency estimates of the amounts of specific drugs destined for U.S. markets, involvement of organized criminal groups, smuggling and transportation methods, and indicators of changes in smuggling and transportation methods.
Distribution. The evaluation of illicit drug distribution was mostly qualitative. Analysts considered the extent to which specific drugs are distributed nationally, regionally, and in Primary Market Areas based on law enforcement reporting. Also considered were qualitative data pertaining to the involvement of organized criminal groups, including their involvement in wholesale, midlevel, and retail distribution.1
National Drug Threat Survey data used in this report do not imply that there is only one drug threat per state or region or that only one drug is available per state or region. A percentage given for a state or region represents the proportion of state and local law enforcement agencies in that state or region that identified a particular drug as their greatest threat or as available at low, moderate, or high levels. This assessment breaks the country into six regions as shown in Figure 2. For representation of survey data by regions, see Figures 3 to 5 respectively.
Figure 5. Regional Drug Availability - Percentage of State and Local Agencies Reporting High Availability
1. In this assessment, wholesale distribution refers to the level at which drugs are purchased directly from a source of supply and sold, typically to midlevel distributors, in pound, kilogram, or multiunit quantities. Midlevel distribution refers to the level at which drugs are purchased directly from wholesalers in pound, kilogram, or multiunit quantities and sold in smaller quantities to other midlevel distributors or to retail distributors. Retail distribution refers to the level at which drugs are sold directly to users.
End of page.