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National Drug Intelligence Center
Oklahoma Drug Threat Assessment
Heroin is available in Oklahoma, primarily in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and the abuse of heroin poses a concern for law enforcement and healthcare professionals. Mexican black tar heroin is the most prevalent and abused type in Oklahoma. Mexican brown powdered heroin is available to a lesser extent. Mexican DTOs and Mexican criminal groups are the primary transporters and wholesale distributors of Mexican black tar and brown powdered heroin. Hispanic and African American street gangs conduct most of the retail distribution that occurs in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Local independent dealers also are involved in retail distribution, but to a much lesser extent.
Heroin abuse remains a problem in Oklahoma even though, according to TEDs, the number of heroin-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities in 2001 (180) was lower than in 1997 (250). (See Table 1 in Methamphetamine section.) According to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, 5.0 percent of substance abuse-related treatment admissions in FY2001 reported heroin/other opiates as their primary drug of choice. According to treatment data, when asked to list their primary drug of choice, individuals were allowed to report more than one drug (including alcohol) and, on average, reported 1.7 drugs of choice.
In 1999 the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services conducted surveys of three populations--general adult, Native American, and corrections (prisoners, probationers, and parolees)--to determine the extent of drug abuse among Oklahoma residents. The Department estimated that over 30,000 members (1.3%) of the general adult population and over 3,500 members (2.1%) of the Native American population had used heroin at least once in their lifetime. It also estimated that more than 5,000 prisoners (25.6%) and 3,000 probationers and parolees (10.5%) had used heroin at least once in their lifetime. In both the general adult and Native American populations, the highest rate of use was found among males and females in the 30 to 44 age group.
According to DAWN mortality data, the number of deaths in which heroin was a factor in Oklahoma County decreased from 37 in 1996 to 16 in 1997, then increased to 26 in 1998. The number of deaths subsequently decreased to 25 in 1999 and 19 in 2000, the most recent data available.
Over 2 percent of Oklahoma high school students surveyed reported heroin use. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services reports that 2.4 percent of Oklahoma high school students surveyed during the 1999-2000 school year indicated that they had used heroin at least once in their lifetime. Reported use was highest among ninth grade students (3.0%) and lowest among eleventh grade students (1.7%). Reported lifetime heroin use was 2.6 percent among tenth grade students and 2.3 percent among twelfth grade students.
The percentage of male arrestees in Oklahoma City testing positive for heroin in 2000 was relatively low. According to 2000 ADAM data, 3.2 percent of adult male arrestees in Oklahoma City tested positive for heroin.
Heroin is available in major metropolitan areas in Oklahoma, particularly Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Mexican black tar heroin is the most prevalent type, accounting for a substantial portion of the available supply. The purity of Mexican black tar heroin varies widely from 7 to 75 percent. To a lesser extent, Mexican brown powdered heroin also is available.
Heroin prices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma's two largest metropolitan areas, have remained relatively stable, according to the DEA Dallas Division. In Oklahoma City in the first quarter of FY2002, Mexican black tar heroin sold for $25 per bag, $200 per bundle (10 bags), $150 to $250 per gram, $4,500 per ounce, and $30,000 per kilogram. In Tulsa in the first quarter of FY2002, Mexican black tar heroin sold for $90 to $125 per gram and $1,500 to $2,500 per ounce.
The number of federal sentences for heroin-related offenses in Oklahoma decreased from FY1997 to FY2000. According to the USSC, in FY1997 there were seven heroin-related federal sentences, zero in FY1998, three in FY1999, and three in FY2000.
Street gangs, which are responsible for most retail heroin distribution in Oklahoma, are known to use violence to protect drug shipments or to maintain control over distribution in a given area. Most federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma cite the violent crime associated with street gang drug activity as a serious threat to the state. Most of the violence associated with heroin involves disputes over distribution areas.
Opium is not cultivated nor is heroin produced in Oklahoma. Heroin is produced primarily in four source regions--South America, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, and Mexico. Virtually all of the heroin available in Oklahoma is produced in Mexico.
Mexican DTOs and Mexican criminal groups are the primary transporters of heroin into and through Oklahoma. These organizations and groups typically smuggle heroin across the U.S.-Mexico border. They transport it overland in commercial and private vehicles into Oklahoma through southwestern states, particularly Texas. Interstates 35, 40, and 44 and US 54 and 69 are frequently used to transport heroin within Oklahoma. Statewide, law enforcement officials report that rented or leased vehicles are increasingly being used to transport heroin.
Heroin also is transported into Oklahoma via package delivery services and by couriers aboard buses, trains, and private and commercial airlines. Law enforcement officials in Oklahoma report the increased use of migrant workers as drug couriers.
Mexican DTOs operating from Mexico and Mexican criminal groups operating from Texas distribute heroin, primarily Mexican black tar, at the wholesale level in Oklahoma. These DTOs and criminal groups distribute heroin to Hispanic and African American street gangs, primarily in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, that distribute the drug at the retail level. These street gangs package heroin in balloons, aluminum foil, and paper. Local independent dealers also are involved in retail distribution, but to a much lesser extent. Heroin typically is sold from private residences and at businesses such as nightclubs.
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