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National Drug Intelligence Center
New York Drug Threat Assessment
Cocaine, particularly crack, is a serious drug threat to New York. Powdered cocaine and crack cocaine are readily available, commonly abused, and more frequently associated with violent crime than any other illicit drug in the state. New York City serves as a major transportation hub, distribution center, and transshipment point for significant quantities of cocaine. Colombian and Dominican DTOs and criminal groups are the primary transporters of cocaine into New York. Mexican criminal groups also transport significant quantities to New York. Most of the cocaine transported to Upstate New York is transported from New York City in private vehicles and, to a lesser extent, on trains and buses. Colombian and Dominican DTOs and criminal groups based in New York City are the primary wholesale cocaine distributors in the state. Mexican criminal groups increasingly are using their well-established drug distribution networks to distribute illicit drugs in the state. Dominican DTOs and criminal groups are the primary midlevel and retail distributors of powdered cocaine; however, street gangs such as Ņeta, Latin Kings, Mara Salvatrucha, and Bloods also sell a significant amount of cocaine at the retail level. Dominican and Puerto Rican criminal groups are the primary midlevel and retail distributors of crack in New York. The midlevel distributors frequently distribute crack to African American criminal groups that in turn distribute the drug on the streets. African American, Jamaican, and Hispanic criminal groups, including Dominicans, Colombians, and Puerto Ricans, distribute powdered and crack cocaine at the wholesale and retail levels in Upstate New York. Many distributors in the state who had previously sold cocaine outdoors have begun distributing the drug from private residences and other indoor locations. Cocaine also is being sold in the state at nightclubs and, to a lesser extent, through call-and-deliver services.
Cocaine is readily available and frequently abused in New York. According to the 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), 2.0 percent of New York residents reported having abused cocaine at least once in the year prior to the survey, compared with 1.7 percent nationwide. The number of cocaine-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities decreased from 37,118 in 1997 to 32,057 in 2000, then increased to 32,259 in 2001, according to TEDS. (See Table 3 in Overview section.) In 2001 most admissions (22,359) were for smoked cocaine. Treatment admissions for cocaine abuse surpassed admissions for any other illicit drug from 1997 through 2000; however, in 2001 heroin- and marijuana-related admissions surpassed cocaine-related admissions. The number of cocaine-related treatment admissions per 100,000 population (223) dramatically exceeded the number per 100,000 population nationwide (104) in 1999, the most recent year for which these data are available.
In both New York City and Buffalo, the rate of cocaine-related ED mentions--the number per 100,000 population--was dramatically higher than the rate nationwide. Although the total number of cocaine-related ED mentions in New York City decreased annually from 20,202 in 1997 to 13,898 in 2001, the rate per 100,000 population in New York City exceeded the rate per 100,000 population nationwide every year from 1997 through 2001, according to DAWN. (See Table 5.) In Buffalo cocaine-related ED mentions fluctuated from 1,526 in 1997 to 1,220 in 2001, but the rate per 100,000 population remained higher than the nationwide rate each year during that period. (See Table 5.)
Cocaine frequently is a factor in drug-related deaths in the New York metropolitan area, Long Island, and Buffalo, the three areas participating in DAWN mortality reporting. According to DAWN mortality data, in 2000 there were 492 cocaine-related deaths in the New York metropolitan area. Of these, 196 decedents had only cocaine in their system; the remaining 296 had at least one other drug or alcohol in their system in addition to cocaine. One-quarter (123) of the deaths were cocaine-induced (cocaine was the sole cause of death). On Long Island there were 69 cocaine-related deaths in 2000. Of these, four decedents had only cocaine in their system. (The number of cocaine-induced deaths was not reported.) In the Buffalo metropolitan area there were 29 cocaine-related deaths in 2000. Of these, five decedents had only cocaine in their system, and three of the deaths were cocaine-induced. (See Text Box in Overview section.)
The percentage of youth reporting cocaine abuse in New York is lower than the national percentage. According to YRBS, in 1999--the most recent year for which data representative of high school students in the entire state are available--6.8 percent of high school students in New York reported having abused cocaine at least once in their lifetime, compared with 9.5 percent nationwide. In addition, 3.0 percent of New York high school students reported that they had abused cocaine in the 30 days prior to the survey, compared with 4.0 percent nationwide.
Cocaine frequently was detected among adult male arrestees in New York in 2000. According to ADAM data, 48.8 percent of adult male arrestees tested positive for cocaine abuse in New York City. In Albany 24.6 percent of adult male arrestees tested positive for cocaine abuse that year.
Cocaine, both powdered and crack, is readily available in New York. The availability of crack, in particular, is increasing in some Upstate cities including Buffalo. According to FDSS data, federal law enforcement officials in New York seized 19,528 kilograms of cocaine from 1998 through 2001. The annual seizure amounts decreased each year during that period from 6,320 kilograms in 1998 to 3,849 kilograms in 2001; however, cocaine remains readily available. (See Table 1 in Overview section.) On May 23, 2002, officers from a joint New York City Police Department (NYPD), New York State Police, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) task force seized 1,942 kilograms of uncut cocaine from a warehouse in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn and arrested three Mexican nationals and one Dominican national. According to the commissioner of the NYPD, this was the largest cocaine seizure in the city in the last 5 years.
The price of cocaine in New York varies, depending on a number of factors including the buyer's familiarity with the seller, the location of the sale, and the quantity sold. Powdered and crack cocaine prices, particularly for smaller quantities, are generally higher in Upstate New York than in New York City, which serves as the state's distribution center. According to DEA, in New York City powdered cocaine sold for $20,000 to $30,000 per kilogram, $900 to $950 per ounce, $120 to $150 per one-eighth ounce (eight ball), and $20 to $30 per gram in the first quarter of FY2002. In Upstate New York powdered cocaine sold for $20,000 to $32,000 per kilogram, $800 to $1,600 per ounce, $160 to $175 per eight ball, and $50 to $125 per gram. In New York City crack sold for $28,000 to $30,000 per kilogram, $1,000 to $1,500 per ounce, $27 to $45 per gram, and $7 to $10 per rock. In Upstate New York crack sold for $800 to $1,600 per ounce, $175 per eight ball, $50 to $125 per gram, and $10 to $40 per rock. Kilogram prices generally are not available in Upstate New York.
The purity of cocaine available in New York varies depending on where it is being distributed within the state. Purity levels for powdered cocaine average 75 percent, ranging from a low of 20 percent in the Buffalo area to a high of 90 percent in New York City. The average purity level for crack cocaine in the state is 58 percent; purity levels are generally higher in the areas near New York City.
The percentage of federal sentences related to cocaine in New York was higher than for any other drug each year from FY1996 through FY2000 and was higher than the national percentage every year during that period. (See Table 2 in Overview section.) In FY2000, 56.4 percent of all drug-related federal sentences in New York were cocaine-related, compared with 44.2 percent nationwide.
Cocaine, particularly crack, is the illicit drug most commonly associated with violent crime in New York. Colombian and Dominican DTOs and criminal groups and Mexican criminal groups that are entrenched in cocaine distribution are known to rely on violence to protect their product and turf. Street gangs that distribute cocaine often commit violent crimes including assaults, drive-by shootings, drug-related homicides, and drug rip-offs (stealing drugs from other distributors). However, in New York City law enforcement initiatives have forced much of the cocaine distribution indoors, resulting in a decreased level of cocaine-related violence. In Albany law enforcement officials report that violent crimes such as drive-by shootings may be the result of attempts by street gangs from New York City to take control of illicit drug distribution there. In Syracuse and Buffalo law enforcement officials report that the level of violent crime associated with cocaine distribution has increased among rival gangs. Other law enforcement reports indicate that crack is the primary illicit drug associated with violent crime in the smaller towns and larger cities throughout the state.
Individuals who abuse cocaine, particularly crack, often engage in criminal activities to support their drug habits. Local law enforcement authorities in St. Lawrence County attribute most of the forgeries and burglaries in the county to cocaine abusers.
Coca is not cultivated nor is cocaine produced in New York. Virtually all of the cocaine consumed in the world is produced in South America. Colombian DTOs produce most of the cocaine smuggled into New York.
Most of the crack sold in New York is converted from powdered cocaine in the state. Distributors are aware that federal sentences for distribution or possession of crack are lengthier than for powdered cocaine. Consequently, they convert powder into crack in small quantities only as needed.
New York, primarily New York City, is a transportation hub and transshipment point for significant quantities of cocaine. Colombian and Dominican DTOs and criminal groups and Mexican criminal groups are the primary transporters of cocaine to New York; however, Puerto Rican and Jamaican criminal groups also transport cocaine to the state. Cocaine consumed in New York often is smuggled into the United States across the Southwest Border from Mexico and usually transported to New York overland in commercial and private vehicles from transshipment points such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, and El Paso. Large quantities of cocaine transported in tractor-trailers often are concealed in shipments of fruits, vegetables, or other perishable items. These shipments frequently are transported to New Jersey where they are unloaded and stashed. Smaller quantities are then transported from New Jersey to New York in other vehicles such as vans. Additional amounts of cocaine are transported via maritime vessels and commercial aircraft from South America through the Caribbean to Miami and then by commercial and private vehicles to New York or directly from the Caribbean.
Colombian and Dominican DTOs and criminal groups continue to dominate the transportation of cocaine into New York and from New York to other parts of the Northeast. However, according to DEA, Colombian DTOs and criminal groups transport cocaine less frequently than in the past, and Mexican criminal groups are increasingly transporting cocaine into and through the state. The increased involvement of Mexican criminal groups occurs only with the direct or indirect concurrence of Colombian DTOs and criminal groups. Colombian DTOs and criminal groups have relegated some transportation functions to Mexican criminal groups based along the Southwest Border by contracting them to transport cocaine to New York in vehicles equipped with hidden compartments. In lieu of cash payments, the Colombian DTOs and criminal groups often pay Mexican criminal groups with cocaine.
Maritime vessels frequently are used to transport cocaine to ports in New York and New Jersey as well as other East Coast ports. Colombian DTOs and criminal groups, sometimes with the aid of Dominican DTOs and criminal groups or traditional organized crime members, often transport multikilogram shipments of cocaine into the Port of New York/New Jersey as well as to ports along the East Coast including Miami, Port Everglades, Jacksonville, and Philadelphia. Cocaine shipped on maritime vessels is usually concealed in shipments of bananas, automobiles, furniture, vegetable oil, tiles, truck batteries, and other commodities. Subsequently, it is transported from the ports to locations in New York usually via private and commercial vehicles. In April 2001 USCS inspectors at the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island seized 54 kilograms of cocaine concealed in a container of frozen plantains that had arrived on a cargo vessel from Colombia. The cocaine, destined for Brooklyn, was hidden in 20 of 1,800 cartons concealed in four flat packages under false cardboard bottoms. In August 2001 USCS inspectors at the same terminal seized 78 kilograms of cocaine from a commercial shipping container. The cocaine was hidden in backpacks in a shipment of Brazil nuts. According to El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) Arrival Zone Seizure Statistics, law enforcement officials in New York seized approximately 1,891 kilograms of cocaine aboard commercial vessels from 1997 through 2001. (See Table 6.)
Cocaine often is transported into New York via commercial aircraft. Large amounts of cocaine typically are transported in air cargo shipments, and couriers usually transport smaller quantities either internally, on their person, or in their luggage. Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Jamaican DTOs and criminal groups transport significant quantities of cocaine into New York on commercial airline flights and, to a lesser extent, via air package delivery services. They typically use couriers and air cargo on flights originating in the Caribbean, especially Jamaica. In June 2001 USCS Inspectors at JFK International Airport seized 89.5 kilograms of cocaine in cargo shipped from Haiti. In October 2001 they seized 5.7 kilograms of cocaine concealed in a suitcase belonging to a courier on a flight originating in the Dominican Republic. According to EPIC Arrival Zone Seizure Statistics, law enforcement officials in New York seized approximately 3,028 kilograms of cocaine transported on commercial aircraft from 1997 through 2001. (See Table 6.)
Most of the cocaine available in Upstate New York is transported from New York City in private vehicles and, to a lesser extent, on trains and buses; however, law enforcement reports indicate that cocaine sometimes is transported to Upstate New York directly from Texas and Canada. In August 2001 state law enforcement officials in Buffalo and Rochester seized 12 and 20 kilograms of cocaine, respectively, that were transported to the area directly from Texas. Seizure data reveal that cocaine smuggled from Canada into New York frequently is transported via private vehicles through an isolated area of the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reservation, and seizures predominantly involve personal use quantities.
New York, primarily New York City, is one of the most significant cocaine distribution centers in the United States. Numerous DTOs and criminal groups based in New York City supply cocaine to distributors in various cities throughout the state and in states throughout the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest. Federal, state, and local law enforcement officials in 16 states and the District of Columbia that responded to the NDIC National Drug Threat Survey 2001 reported that New York was a supply area for cocaine available in their jurisdictions. Some officials reporting New York City as a supply area for cocaine included those in Erie, Pennsylvania; Annapolis, Maryland; Charleston, South Carolina; Brattleboro, Vermont; and Terre Haute, Indiana.
Colombian and Dominican DTOs and criminal groups based in New York City are the primary wholesale powdered cocaine distributors in the state. Colombian DTOs and criminal groups usually are based in the Jackson Heights area of Queens, and many Dominican DTOs and criminal groups are based in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. Both supply powdered cocaine to criminal groups for distribution throughout the region and to cities as far away as Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago. Dominican DTOs and criminal groups, in particular, typically are the primary suppliers of powdered cocaine to distributors in states along the East Coast. They operate secondary distribution centers in Albany, Boston, Buffalo, Hempstead, Philadelphia, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Schenectady, Syracuse, and Yonkers as well as the New York counties of Erie, Monroe, Onondaga, Putnam, and Westchester.
Mexican criminal groups distribute cocaine at an increasing rate in New York City. DEA reports that Mexican criminal groups are beginning to distribute cocaine in the city in which distribution traditionally has been controlled by Colombian and Dominican DTOs and criminal groups. Additionally, there are indications that Dominican distributors are selling cocaine to Mexican criminal groups, and Mexican criminal groups and Dominican DTOs and criminal groups are selling cocaine together.
Jamaican criminal groups, known as posses, distribute wholesale quantities of powdered cocaine in New York and control a significant portion of the crack market in New York and other states. They distribute wholesale quantities of cocaine in cities including New York, Mount Vernon, and Rochester as well as Monroe and Onondaga Counties.
Dominican DTOs and criminal groups are the primary midlevel and retail distributors of powdered cocaine in the state; however, prominent street gangs such as Ņeta, Latin Kings, Mara Salvatrucha, and Bloods also sell a significant amount of cocaine at the retail level in the New York City area. These street gangs operate cells within a defined distribution area, and each cell consists of a manager in charge of several lookouts, dealers, and enforcers. In northern Manhattan, for example, street gangs operate under a "gentlemen's agreement" that prohibits distribution in another gang's defined turf and reduces the level of violence.
Dominican and Puerto Rican criminal groups are the primary midlevel and retail distributors of crack in New York City. These midlevel groups frequently distribute crack cocaine to African American criminal groups who then distribute the crack on the streets. Generally, Dominican criminal groups control the crack market in Washington Heights, and Puerto Rican criminal groups dominate retail distribution in the South Bronx. Jamaican criminal groups also distribute retail quantities of crack, primarily in Brooklyn, and control crack distribution in a number of predominantly Jamaican and African American neighborhoods.
In Upstate New York African American, Jamaican, and Hispanic criminal groups including Dominicans, Colombians, and Puerto Ricans distribute powdered cocaine and crack cocaine at the retail level. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and DEA, Colombian, Dominican, and African American criminal groups usually distribute retail quantities of cocaine indoors from apartments in Albany. In Syracuse and Buffalo African American, Colombian, Dominican, and Puerto Rican criminal groups are the primary retail distributors of cocaine. In Rochester African American, Jamaican, and Hispanic criminal groups are the primary retail cocaine distributors. Street gangs also sell retail quantities.
Retail quantities of cocaine are sold by a variety of methods in New York. Cocaine typically is sold at open-air drug markets; however, distributors are increasingly moving sales indoors. Cocaine also is sold at nightclubs and, to a lesser extent, via call-and-deliver services. Powdered cocaine usually is packaged in aluminum foil, glassine bags, new dollar bills, and occasionally in plastic wrap knotted or tied at both ends (known Upstate as a tie-off, corner wraps, or wraps). Crack usually is packaged in small plastic vials and is increasingly available in small glassine bags or plastic wrap knotted or tied at both ends (known Upstate as bumpys). Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies throughout the Upstate area report that crack is no longer packaged in vials.
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