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National Drug Intelligence Center
Oklahoma Drug Threat Assessment
Marijuana is readily available and commonly abused throughout Oklahoma. Most of the marijuana available in the state is produced in Mexico; however, locally grown, higher-potency marijuana also is available. Mexican DTOs, the primary suppliers to Oklahoma, produce marijuana in Mexico and transport it into the state. Mexican DTOs use Oklahoma as a transshipment point for marijuana because of the state's central location, well-developed transportation infrastructure, and proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican DTOs and Mexican criminal groups distribute Mexico-produced marijuana at the wholesale level. Mexican criminal groups, African American criminal groups, OMGs, and street gangs distribute Mexico-produced marijuana at the retail level. Caucasian independent dealers and Caucasian criminal groups produce and distribute most of the locally produced marijuana.
Marijuana is abused frequently throughout Oklahoma. According to TEDS data, marijuana-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities decreased from 2,423 in 1997 to 2,018 in 1999, then increased to 2,832 in 2001. (See Table 1 in Methamphetamine section.) In 2001 individuals 17 years old and younger accounted for 21 percent of marijuana-related treatment admissions. Treatment data from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services indicate that 43 percent of substance abuse-related treatment admissions in FY2001 reported abusing marijuana as the primary drug of choice--a higher percentage than for any other illicit drug. 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.
Marijuana abuse is high among Oklahoma residents over the age of 18. In 1999 the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services conducted a survey of three populations--general adult, Native American, and corrections (prisoners, probationers, and parolees)--to determine the extent of drug abuse among Oklahoma residents. Of the general adult population surveyed, 44 percent of those aged 18 to 29, 53 percent of those aged 30 to 44, and 33 percent of those aged 45 to 54 reported using marijuana at least once during their lifetime. Among the Native American population, 48 percent of those aged 18 to 29, 60 percent of those aged 30 to 44, and 39 percent of those aged 45 to 54 reported using marijuana during their lifetime. The report also indicated that 88 percent of the prison inmates surveyed had used marijuana during their lifetime. Among probationers and parolees, 48 percent of Native Americans, 34 percent of Caucasians, and 28 percent of African Americans reported using marijuana in the last 18 months. Over 44 percent of female inmates and 40 percent of male inmates surveyed reported that they had used marijuana within the last 18 months.
The Oklahoma Poison Control Center reports that although nonfatal marijuana overdoses are low, they are increasing. In 1998 there were 8 cases of nonfatal marijuana overdoses, 10 in 1999, and 17 in 2000.
Marijuana is the most frequently abused illicit drug among Oklahoma high school students. According to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services 1999-2000 school year survey, 44.7 percent of high school students surveyed reported that they had used marijuana at least once during their lifetime. Regarding past month use, 21.0 percent reported that they had used marijuana during the 30 days prior to the survey. In general, use was lowest among ninth graders and highest among twelfth graders.
Marijuana use is prevalent among adult male arrestees in Oklahoma City. Over half (57%) of adult male arrestees tested positive for marijuana in 2000, according to ADAM data.
Marijuana is widely available in Oklahoma. Mexico-produced marijuana is the predominant type, but locally produced marijuana is also available throughout the state. Most of the marijuana seized within the jurisdiction of the DEA Oklahoma City District Office is smuggled from the Ciudad Juarez, Mexico area. Estimates of the amount of Mexico-produced marijuana that is transported into or through Oklahoma are not available.
Vehicle searches initiated through Operation Pipeline indicate that large quantities of marijuana are transported into and through the state. Seizures of marijuana on Oklahoma highways increased from FY1999 to FY2000, the most recent data available. In FY1999 Operation Pipeline interdiction efforts resulted in the seizure of 5,043 kilograms of marijuana. In FY2000 there were 96 marijuana seizures along Oklahoma highways, totaling 8,675 kilograms of marijuana.
Marijuana seized in Oklahoma and neighboring states typically has low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). In 2000 DEA reported that marijuana submitted by its South Central Regional Laboratory to the University of Mississippi had an average potency of 3.3 percent. The DEA South Central Regional Laboratory, which covers seven southern states including Oklahoma, randomly selects marijuana samples from the marijuana seized in its area and provides them to the University of Mississippi for analysis and processing. The Marijuana Potency Monitoring Project at the University of Mississippi is engaged in cannabis/hashish/hash oil research and potency analysis.
Prices for marijuana in Oklahoma are stable. According to the DEA Dallas Division, commercial-grade marijuana in Oklahoma City sold for $2 to $5 per cigarette, $10 per gram, $75 to $90 per ounce, and $500 to $600 per pound in the first quarter of FY2002. In Tulsa commercial-grade marijuana sold for $2 to $5 per cigarette, $10 to $15 per gram, $80 to $120 per ounce, $250 to $350 per one-quarter pound, and $600 to $1,200 per pound ($1,800 to $2,000 per pound for locally grown). In McAlester commercial-grade (Mexico-produced) marijuana sold for $75 per ounce and $700 to $1,200 per pound, and locally grown marijuana sold for $2,000 to $4,000 per pound.
In Oklahoma marijuana-related federal sentences increased from 23 in FY1997 to 40 in FY1998, decreased to 19 in FY1999, and then increased to 40 in FY2000, according to the USSC. In FY2000 the percentage of drug-related federal sentences for marijuana violations (26.9%) was greater than the percentage of sentences for any other drug except methamphetamine (36.9%).
Marijuana abuse normally is not associated with violent behavior. However, ADAM data for Oklahoma City reveal that in 2000, 63.6 percent of the males arrested for violent crimes tested positive for marijuana.
The potential for violence is great at cannabis cultivation sites. Domestic cannabis growers often are heavily armed and commonly use booby traps and warning devices to protect their cultivation sites. The U.S. Forest Service reports that visitors to public lands may be endangered by the presence of cannabis cultivation sites, which routinely are booby-trapped with explosives, trip wires, hanging fishhooks, punji sticks, and other dangerous devices. Oklahoma law enforcement officials frequently seize weapons at cannabis grow sites.
Most of the marijuana available in Oklahoma is produced in Mexico, but locally produced marijuana also is available throughout the state. Although there is no estimate of the amount of marijuana that is produced locally, it continues to be a concern to Oklahoma law enforcement officials. Independent Caucasian dealers and Caucasian criminal groups are responsible for most of the locally produced marijuana in Oklahoma.
The northeastern and southeastern regions of Oklahoma are major cannabis cultivation areas for high quality marijuana. Growers continue to cultivate cannabis in the rugged, forested terrain of southeastern Oklahoma in areas such as the Ouachita National Forest, which is located along the Arkansas border. Within Oklahoma cannabis grows usually consist of 100 or fewer plants and typically are located near a water source. In the rugged, remote areas of northeastern Oklahoma, cannabis is grown in individual plots consisting of 20 or fewer plants with one person overseeing numerous plots at different locations. This method is used primarily to minimize the number of plants lost to eradication. Once harvested, this marijuana is distributed locally or, to a lesser extent, transported out of state. In the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas, locally grown cannabis is in high demand due to its high quality and because local residents prefer to deal with known local suppliers.
In 2001 the DEA Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (DCE/SP) targeted outdoor cannabis grows. From mid-July to mid-September 2001, 6,149 cannabis plants were eradicated, and 15.8 million ditchweed (wild marijuana) plants were eradicated. According to the DCE/SP data, in 2000, 8,540 outdoor plants in 400 plots, 112 plants in 4 indoor grow sites, and more than 10 million ditchweed plants were eradicated. Ditchweed lacks sufficient levels of THC to have value as an illicit drug; however, it may be harvested and mixed with higher-grade marijuana.
Cannabis eradication efforts by state officials as well as a recent drought have caused many outdoor growers to shift their operations to indoor grow locations. Depending on the cultivation methods used, there may be as many as four to six crops harvested per year. Hydroponics and aeroponics are just two types of cultivation methods that are currently used by local growers. In a hydroponic operation, marijuana is not grown in soil; instead, growers use an inert growing medium to support the plant and its root system. Some popular media include rock wool, vermiculite, perlite, and clay pellets. In an aeroponic operation, growers suspend the plants in the air and attach the stems to a structure; they then spray the roots with nutrients. Both methods require a specialized lighting system.
Some growers automate indoor cannabis cultivation using computers and multitask controllers. Computers can be used to monitor development of the plants and environmental factors such as light, water, and temperature. Multitask automatic controllers are fully programmable with timers and sensors to monitor and control the grow environment. The operation of computers and controllers from a remote location enables cannabis growers to distance themselves from the grow operation and allows them to use more than one location. Controllers that can be programmed require minimum oversight, and computers can be accessed from a separate site. Electronically controlled cannabis operations also require less manpower during the growing phase.
Mexican DTOs and Mexican criminal groups transport Mexico-produced marijuana into and through Oklahoma. These DTOs and criminal groups transport marijuana using private and commercial vehicles, aircraft, and package delivery services. Private and commercial vehicles are the primary means used to transport marijuana into and through Oklahoma. Operation Pipeline data for 2000--the most recent available--indicate that there were 96 marijuana seizures along Oklahoma's highways.
Oklahoma, particularly Tulsa and Oklahoma City, is used as a transshipment point for marijuana, primarily due to its central location, well-developed transportation infrastructure, and proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the DEA Tulsa Resident Office, bulk quantities of marijuana are often smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border near McAllen, Texas. In one documented instance, marijuana was transported via tractor-trailer from McAllen to the Houston area and then to Tulsa. In Tulsa it was repackaged for further distribution in the Midwest as well as in the area surrounding Tulsa.
In October 1999 the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control arrested nine individuals known to be members of one of Mexico's largest DTOs. These individuals routinely transported 200- to 2,000-pound shipments of marijuana into Oklahoma from Mexico. The marijuana was then transported from Oklahoma to other states such as Illinois, Michigan, and Missouri.
Interdiction efforts by the Oklahoma State Highway Patrol have forced drug traffickers to use alternate methods for transporting marijuana into and through the state. These methods include private and commercial buses and aircraft. From 1996 through 1997 authorities seized 2,204 pounds of marijuana during interdiction efforts at bus terminals in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Authorities also seized 656 pounds of marijuana at the Oklahoma City and Tulsa airports during the same period. In 1998 the Tulsa Police Department seized 175 pounds of marijuana during a search of a single-engine aircraft bound for the Great Lakes area. Marijuana also is shipped into the state via package delivery services, although there have been no recent seizures reported.
Mexican DTOs and Mexican criminal groups are the primary wholesale distributors of Mexico-produced marijuana available in Oklahoma. These DTOs and criminal groups often restrict membership to family, lifelong friends, and trusted associates. Some operate through midlevel distributors who then sell wholesale quantities to retail distributors.
Mexican and African American criminal groups, OMGs--primarily Mongols and Rogues--and street gangs control the retail distribution of Mexico-produced marijuana in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas. In 1999 the DEA Tulsa Resident Office identified 15 Mexican criminal groups that were involved in wholesale marijuana distribution in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas. Each group generally supplied three to five retail distributors.
The street gangs responsible for retail distribution in the Oklahoma City area are Bloods, Crips, South Side Locos, and Juaritos. Bloods and Crips also distribute marijuana in the Tulsa area. Although local law enforcement authorities identify street gangs as retail marijuana distributors, the DEA Tulsa Resident Office indicates that Mexican and African American criminal groups are the primary retail distributors of marijuana in that area. Caucasian independent dealers and Caucasian criminal groups distribute locally produced marijuana within the state. Marijuana often is sold in nightclubs and from private residences.
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