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National Drug Intelligence Center
Oklahoma Drug Threat Assessment
Oklahoma has approximately 3.4 million residents and ranks twenty-seventh in the nation in population. Approximately 76 percent of the residents are Caucasian, 8 percent American Indian, 8 percent African American, and 5 percent Hispanic or Latino. Residents younger than 18 years of age account for 26 percent of the population, and those 65 years of age and older account for 13 percent.
Oklahoma is the eighteenth largest state with a land area of 68,667 square miles. It has 35 state-owned recreational areas and over 4,400 miles of river and lake shoreline. Forests cover approximately 24 percent of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has two large metropolitan areas. Oklahoma City,
the capital, is located in the center of the state and has a population of
over 500,000. Tulsa, located in the northeastern part of the state, has a
population exceeding 300,000. The Arkansas River Basin encompasses most of
the east central region, and the Red River Basin encompasses most of the
southern region. Oklahoma is bordered by Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas,
Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas.
Oklahoma has an extensive transportation infrastructure that includes an interstate highway system, public and private airports, rail lines, and two river ports. This transportation infrastructure supports increasing transportation demands. Most drugs available in the state are transported via private and commercial vehicles. The major highways are Interstates 35, 40, 44, and 75 (the Indian Nation Turnpike), and U.S. Highways 54, 56, 64, 69, 81, 83, 287, and 412. US 54, the main route from El Paso, Texas, to Missouri, transits Oklahoma. Interstate 35 and US 69 are the primary north-south routes, and I-40 is the main east-west route. Interstate 44 extends from the Texas-Oklahoma border to the Oklahoma-Missouri border.
To a lesser extent than highway transportation, private and commercial aircraft also are used to transport drugs into the state. Oklahoma has two international airports as well as numerous public and private airports and airstrips that may be used to transport drugs into and through the state. The international airports, located in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, offer connecting flights to Mexico and Canada. Other cities with passenger air service are Lawton, Enid, and Ponca City. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Oklahoma has 149 public airports.
Drugs also may be transported into the state via rail, although there have been no recent documented seizures from railcars. The rail infrastructure in Oklahoma includes nearly 4,000 miles of railroad track used by 20 railway companies. Rail cargo includes foreign and domestic goods. Primary railroad centers include Clinton, Durant, El Reno, Enid, McAlester, Muskogee, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa.
Drugs may be transported into Oklahoma via its river ports; however, there have been no recent seizures at river ports. Two major ports are in the cities of Tulsa and Muskogee. These ports link Oklahoma with 25,000 miles of inland waterways stretching from the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Drugs also may be transported into the state via package delivery services, although there have been no recent documented seizures.
Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and Mexican criminal groups use Oklahoma as a transit area for shipments of methamphetamine, powdered cocaine, marijuana, and heroin because of the state's proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border. These DTOs and criminal groups take advantage of the transportation infrastructure to transport drugs into and through the state.
Mexican DTOs and Mexican criminal groups are the primary wholesale distributors of illicit drugs in Oklahoma. Criminal groups, street gangs, independent dealers, and outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) distribute drugs at the retail level. OMGs with chapters in Oklahoma include Bandidos, Mongols, Outlaws, Rolling 30 Bloods, and Rogues. The street gangs operating in the state include Bloods and Crips, which are primarily African American gangs, and Latin Kings, South Side Locos, and Mara Salvatrucha, which are primarily Hispanic gangs. Gang activity has been observed throughout Oklahoma.
Drug-related arrests are high in Oklahoma. In 2000 there were 22,114 arrests for drug-related violations; 9.4 percent of these arrests were individuals under the age of 18, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). In addition, Oklahoma was one of 10 states identified as having the highest rates of incarceration in the nation from 1985 through 1998. In 1993 only Texas had a higher incarceration rate. Each year from 1994 through 1998, Oklahoma ranked third behind Texas and Louisiana. Reasons for the high rate of incarceration include increases in drug-related offenses, new antidrug laws with harsher penalties, and increased apprehension and adjudication efforts.
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC) random drug testing program appears to have affected the level of drug abuse among inmates, probationers, and parolees. The DOC conducted 14,889 random drug tests in fiscal year (FY) 1999 and 16,442 in FY2000. In FY1999, 9.9 percent of inmates, probationers, and parolees tested positive for drugs. In FY2000 the percentage declined to 8.7 percent. Drug abuse was higher among probationers and parolees than inmates. In addition, rates were higher among inmates in contract facilities than among those in state-run facilities.
All major drugs of abuse are available and abused in Oklahoma. According to the 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), 5.1 percent of Oklahoma residents abused an illicit drug at least once in the month prior to the survey. Oklahoma residents aged 18 to 25 represented the largest group of current users, with 12.1 percent reporting past month use. According to a survey conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services during the 1999-2000 school year, drug abuse is a continuing problem among Oklahoma high school students. Of 10,179 students surveyed, 44.7 percent reported using marijuana during their lifetime, 11.5 percent reported using methamphetamine, 9.2 percent reported using cocaine, and 2.4 percent reported using heroin. In addition, 12.0 percent of students surveyed reported that they had used inhalants during their lifetime, and 4.7 percent reported steroid use. Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) mortality data for Oklahoma County indicate that deaths in which drugs were a factor increased from 168 in 1996 to 226 in 1999, then decreased to 196 in 2000.
A significant portion of Oklahoma’s budget is used to combat the problems associated with drug abuse. The state government spent approximately 10.5 percent of its 1998 budget--$705 million--on substance abuse-related programs that focused on justice, education, health, child/family assistance, mental health/developmental disabilities, employment, and public safety issues. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reported that Oklahoma spent $201 per capita on substance abuse-related services in 1998. Oklahoma ranked thirty-sixth in per capita drug-related spending for that year.
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