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National Drug Threat Assessment 2006
January 2006

Strategic Drug Threat Developments

  • Significant progress has been made by the counterdrug community in reducing demand for marijuana, heroin, and MDMA. Additionally, the availability of LSD and GHB--drugs that have appealed particularly to adolescents--has decreased significantly, and heroin availability appears to be declining as well. However, the distribution and abuse of cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine continue to pose considerable threats to communities throughout the nation. 

  • For the second consecutive year, a higher percentage of state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide (39.2%) have identified methamphetamine as the drug that poses the greatest threat to their area than the percentage that identified any other drug, according to the National Drug Threat Survey 2005 (see Appendix A, Map 2). 

  • Mexican drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups are the most influential drug traffickers in the United States, and their influence is increasing. They are the predominant smugglers, transporters, and wholesale distributors of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and Mexico-produced heroin in the United States; they are expanding their control over the distribution of these drugs in areas long controlled by Colombian and Dominican criminal groups, including areas of New York and Florida. 

  • Canada-based Asian criminal groups with access to MDMA from Canada and Europe have surpassed Russian-Israeli drug trafficking organizations as the primary suppliers of MDMA to U.S. drug markets; they are also positioned to become the predominant transporters and distributors of high potency, Canada-produced marijuana. 

  • Many street gangs, prison gangs, and outlaw motorcycle gangs have evolved from loosely organized, turf-oriented entities to well-organized, profit-driven criminal enterprises whose activities include not only retail drug distribution but also other aspects of the trade, including smuggling, transportation, and wholesale distribution. 

  • Currently available national-level data and law enforcement reporting tends to indicate stable domestic cocaine availability, even in smaller drug markets. However, Office of National Drug Control Policy analysis of retail-level cocaine purity and price data indicates that the purity of cocaine is starting to decline, possibly due to the effects of significant declines in estimated cocaine production and increases in cocaine interdiction. 

  • Domestic methamphetamine production, while decreasing--a result of increased law enforcement pressure, public awareness campaigns, and regulation on the sale and use of precursor and essential chemicals used in methamphetamine production--continues to jeopardize the safety of citizens, adversely affect the environment, and strain law enforcement resources. Children, law enforcement personnel, emergency responders, and those who live at or near methamphetamine production sites have been seriously injured or killed as a result of methamphetamine production. Chemical waste from methamphetamine laboratories has killed livestock, contaminated streams and soil, and destroyed vegetation. Clandestine methamphetamine laboratories have caused law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to devote inordinate amounts of time and manpower to the investigation and cleanup of these laboratories. 

  • Decreases in domestic methamphetamine production have been offset by increased production in Mexico. Moreover, illicit methamphetamine production capacity in Mexico appears sufficient to offset further reductions in domestic methamphetamine production. 

  • Mexican drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups have emerged as the primary wholesale drug money launderers in the country because of the increasing influence they are exerting on domestic drug trafficking. Mexican traffickers typically transport their drug proceeds from U.S. market areas to areas in proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border. These proceeds are aggregated and eventually smuggled in bulk into Mexico for repatriation or for further transport to South America.

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