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 National Drug Intelligence Center.



National Drug Threat Assessment 2005
Executive Summary  

Publication Date: February 2005

Document ID: 2005-Q0317-004

Archived on:  July 1, 2009. This document may contain dated information. It remains available to provide access to historical materials.

Your questions, comments, and suggestions for future subjects are welcome at any time. Addresses are provided at the end of the page.

National Drug Threat Assessment 2005 Executive Summary.


  Overall Key Findings










Other Dangerous Drugs



Money Laundering

List of Figures

Figure 1. Primary Market Areas
Figure 2. Rates of Past Year Use for Powdered Cocaine, 1999-2004
Figure 3. Cocaine Flows to the United States
Figure 4. Reported Methamphetamine Laboratory Seizures, 1999-2003
Figure 5. Rates of Past Year Use for Marijuana
Figure 6.  Principal Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation Areas
Figure 7. Heroin Admissions to Publicly Funded Treatment Facilities, 1992-2002  
Figure 8. MDMA-Related Arrests, Nationwide, 2000-2003
Figure 9. Recorded MDMA Seizures in Dosage Units, 2000-2003
Figure 10. Numbers of Reported MDMA Laboratory Seizures Nationwide, 2000 - Mid-2004
Figure 11. Emergency Department Mentions of Narcotic Analgesics, 1995-2002
Figure 12. Emergency Department Mentions for Benzodiazepines, 1995-2002
Figure 13. Estimated Annual Domestic Retail-Level Drug Purchases in Billions of Dollars, 2000

List of Tables

Table 1.  Andean Region Coca Cultivation, In Hectares, and Potential Cocaine Production, in Metric Tons, (100% pure) 1999-2003
Table 2. Cocaine Losses in Transit Toward the United States, in Metric Tons
Table 3. Top Five States for Marijuana Eradication, 2003
Table 4. U. S. Arrival Zone Seizures of Marijuana in Kilograms, 2001-2003
Table 5. Potential Worldwide Heroin Production, in Metric Tons, 1999-2003


The abuse of illicit drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, heroin, and MDMA as well as diverted pharmaceuticals inflicts tremendous damage on society, particularly on the millions of families that have a member struggling with illicit drug dependence or addiction. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data, nearly 35 million persons aged 12 or older used an illicit drug within the past year, and approximately 3.8 million were dependent on or abusers of illicit drugs in 2003, the latest year for which such data are available. Data also show that the number of drug treatment admissions to publicly funded treatment facilities in 2002 reached their highest recorded level at nearly 1.1 million.

Figure 1. Primary Market Areas

U.S. map showing the Primary Market Areas.

Primary Market Areas (PMAs) for cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and MDMA are those cities that are leading consumption areas for these drugs based on analysis of public health data. PMAs also are among the leading national-level distribution centers for wholesale quantities of these drugs based primarily on law enforcement reporting and analysis of drug seizure data. PMAs for marijuana are based on national-level distribution alone because rates of marijuana use are relatively high and stable in markets throughout the country.

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Overall Key Findings

  • Mexican criminal groups exert more influence over drug trafficking in the United States than any other group. Mexican criminal groups smuggle most of the cocaine available in domestic drug markets into the country. Moreover, Mexican criminal groups produce and subsequently smuggle into the country much of the heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine available in U.S. drug markets. Mexican criminal groups also produce large amounts of marijuana and methamphetamine within the United States for domestic distribution. Mexican criminal groups are the predominant transporters and wholesale distributors of cocaine and methamphetamine in most regions of the country; they are the predominant transporters and wholesale distributors of heroin in western regions of the country; and they are very prominent transporters and wholesale distributors of marijuana throughout the country. 
  • Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) appear to be gaining control of a larger percentage of the cocaine smuggled into the United States. The estimated percentage of cocaine smuggled into the United States via the Mexico-Central America corridor increased sharply from 72 percent in 2002 to 77 percent in 2003, and preliminary data indicate that the percentage may be higher than 90 percent for 2004. Nearly all of the cocaine transported through the Mexico-Central America corridor ultimately is smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border by Mexican criminal groups for subsequent distribution in the United States. 
  • Domestic drug markets appear to be increasingly supplied with  methamphetamine produced in methamphetamine superlabs in Mexico. 
  • Production and distribution of ice methamphetamine--a higher purity, more addictive form of methamphetamine--by Mexican criminal groups has increased sharply over the past 2 years in many drug markets. 
  • Colombian DTOs are increasingly relying on Mexican DTOs and criminal groups to transport South American heroin to the United States, much as they rely on Mexican DTOs to transport cocaine.
  • The threat posed to the United States by the illegal diversion and abuse of prescription drugs has increased sharply since the mid-1990s and is now among the leading drug threats to the country. 
  • Law enforcement reporting indicates that transportation of bulk currency out of the United States--primarily overland across the U.S.-Mexico border--is the principal form of money laundering by DTOs.


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National Drug Intelligence Center
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