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National Drug Threat Assessment 2007

Publication Date: October 2006

Document ID: 2006-Q0317-003

Archived on:  July 1, 2009. This document may contain dated information. It remains available to provide access to historical materials.

This interagency assessment provides a strategic overview and predictive outlook of the threat to the United States from the illicit trafficking and use of cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, heroin, pharmaceutical drugs, and other dangerous drugs.

Your questions, comments, and suggestions for future subjects are welcome at any time. Addresses are provided at the end of the page.

Link to printable version of the National Drug Threat Assessment 2007.



National Drug Threat Summary

Scope and Methodology

   Strategic Findings
   Intelligence Gaps 

   Strategic Findings
   Intelligence Gaps

   Strategic Findings
   Intelligence Gaps

   Strategic Findings
   Intelligence Gaps

Pharmaceutical Drugs
   Strategic Findings
   Intelligence Gaps


Other Dangerous Drugs
   Strategic Findings
   Intelligence Gaps

Drug Money Laundering
   Strategic Findings
   Intelligence Gap

Drug Trafficking Organizations
   Strategic Findings

Appendix A. Maps 

Appendix B. Tables

Appendix C. OCDETF Regional Summaries
   Florida/Caribbean Regional Overview
   Great Lakes Regional Overview
   Mid-Atlantic Regional Overview
   New England Regional Overview
   New York/New Jersey Regional Overview
   Pacific Regional Overview
   Southeast Regional Overview
   Southwest Regional Overview
   West Central Regional Overview


List of Figures

Figure 1. Reported Methamphetamine Laboratory Seizures, 2001-2006.
Figure 2. Reported Methamphetamine Superlab Seizures, 2001-2006. 
Figure 3. Percentage of primary methamphetamine or amphetamine admissions, by route of administration, 1993-2004.
Figure 4. Primary methamphetamine admissions, 2000-2004.
Figure 5. Estimated number of methamphetamine users dependent on or abusing illicit drugs or stimulants, 2002-2004.
Figure 6
. Average percentage of THC in samples of seized marijuana, 1985-2005.
Figure 7. Total marijuana seized in Northern Border states, in kilograms, 2001-2005. 
Figure 8. Commercial disbursements of commonly abused pharmaceuticals, United States, 2000-Midyear 2005.

List of Tables

Table 1. Estimated Andean Region Coca Cultivation and Potential Pure Cocaine Production, 2001-2005
Table 2. Cocaine Lost or Seized in Transit Toward the United States in Metric Tons, 2000-2005
Table 3. Cocaine Seizures in the U.S. Arrival Zone, in Metric Tons, 2000-2005
Table 4. Domestic Cannabis Eradication, Outdoor and Indoor Plant Seizures, 2000-2005
Table 5. Mexico: Cannabis Cultivation and Production, 2001-2005
Table 6. Potential Worldwide Heroin Production, in Metric Tons, 2001-2005
Table 7. MDMA Seizures, in Dosage Units, 2001-2005
Table 8. Drug Trafficking Organizations or Criminal Groups Operating in the United States 

List of Maps in Appendix A

Map 1. Nine regions.
Map 2. National Drug Threat Survey 2006 greatest drug threat as reported by state and local agencies.
Map 3. Greatest drug threat by region.
Map 4. Areas of influence of drug trafficking organizations in the United States.
Map 5. Vectors in the Transit Zone--CCDB-documented cocaine flow departing South America, January-December 2005.

List of Tables in Appendix B

Table 1. NSDUH Trends in Percentage of Past Year Drug Use, 2002-2005
Table 2. MTF Adolescent Trends in Percentage of Past Year Drug Use, 2000-2005
Table 3. Federal-Wide Drug Seizures, in Kilograms, 2000-2005
Table 4. Drug-Related Arrests, United States, 2001-2006
Table 5. Other Dangerous Drugs Submitted for Testing in the United States in Dosage Units, 2001-2006
Table 6. Average Purity of Drug Samples Tested, by Percentage, 2001-2004
Table 7. Laboratory Seizures Involving Other Dangerous Drugs, 2001-2005

National Drug Threat Summary

The trafficking of illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, and MDMA (the leading drug threats to the United States) is undergoing strategic shifts in response to sustained and effective international and domestic counterdrug efforts. These changes--shifting cocaine and methamphetamine production trends, the increasing influence of Mexican and Asian criminal groups in domestic drug distribution, rising availability of more potent forms of methamphetamine and marijuana, and the substitution of illicit drugs for prescription narcotics--represent great challenges to law enforcement agencies and policymakers attempting to extend recent successes.

Coca cultivation is higher than previously estimated, and cocaine availability and use in the United States has not significantly changed despite record interdictions and seizures. Demonstrable progress in disrupting Colombia coca cultivation since 2001, particularly through aerial eradication, has forced growers to cultivate coca in nontraditional growing areas of Colombia. As a result, intelligence agencies are now challenged to expand their survey areas and reexamine cultivation and production estimates for previous years. Aerial eradication resources will be stretched to cover wider growing areas in Colombia. A lesser concern is the potential for drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) to significantly increase coca cultivation in Bolivia and Peru, where cultivation is much lower than mid 1990s levels but has increased recently in both countries.

Recent success in greatly reducing domestic methamphetamine production has also resulted in new challenges for law enforcement. Following a sharp decrease in methamphetamine production nationally (laboratory seizures decreased 42 percent from 2004 (10,015) to 2005 (5,846), and preliminary 2006 data show continued declines), most production and distribution were consolidated under the control of Mexican DTOs producing and distributing higher purity ice methamphetamine, supplanting local independent powder methamphetamine producers and dealers. As a result, Mexican DTOs gained considerable strength and greatly expanded their presence in drug markets throughout the country, even in many smaller communities in midwestern and eastern states. These stronger, more organized, and insulated distribution groups have proven to be much more difficult for local law enforcement to detect and disrupt than the local dealers that they have replaced.

As Mexican DTOs and criminal groups have expanded their control over methamphetamine distribution, many such groups have introduced Mexican black tar and brown powder heroin in southeastern and midwestern states, where Mexican heroin was never or very rarely observed as recently as 2005. Although South American heroin is still the predominant type in most eastern drug markets, Mexican DTOs' ability to advance Mexican heroin beyond traditional western state heroin markets presents new challenges to law enforcement as more groups make the drug consistently available to individuals even in smaller, more rural eastern communities.

Marijuana potency has increased sharply. The production of high potency marijuana in Canada and the United States by Asian criminal groups has been a leading contributor to rising marijuana potency throughout the United States. In fact, average potency of seized marijuana samples has more than doubled from 2000 through 2005, since trafficking by Asian DTOs has increased significantly. Recently, however, Mexican DTOs have also begun producing higher potency marijuana (derived from cannabis cultivated in outdoor plots in California), most likely in an effort to compete with Asian DTOs for high potency marijuana market share. The result may be further increases in average marijuana potency in the United States in the near term.

Since 2004 MDMA trafficking has increased significantly. Canada-based Asian DTOs have also recently gained control over most MDMA distribution in the United States and have expanded distribution of the drug to a level similar to that of 2001, when availability peaked under the control of Israeli DTOs that were largely dismantled by law enforcement. Asian DTOs, however, appear to be stronger than their Israeli predecessors. For example, Asian DTOs trafficking MDMA distribute wholesale quantities of MDMA produced in Canada, and MDMA production by Canada-based Asian groups is increasing. Moreover, Asian DTOs have established much wider distribution networks than did Israeli DTOs. Whereas Israeli MDMA distributors operated primarily in the Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City areas, Asian DTOs have strong distribution networks operating in most states throughout the country.

Rates of pharmaceutical drug abuse exceed that of all other drugs except marijuana, resulting in a high number of pharmaceutical overdose deaths annually. However, recent success within several states in reducing the illegal diversion of pharmaceutical drugs, particularly pharmaceutical narcotics such as OxyContin, through various antidiversion initiatives and monitoring programs has caused some individuals addicted to or dependent on such drugs to substitute other drugs, such as heroin, for prescription narcotics. In some areas, such substitutions among prescription drug abusers have been widespread, creating new challenges for local law enforcement and public health agencies compelled to address a widening local heroin user population.

U.S. regulatory and law enforcement actions, which have made it increasingly difficult for drug traffickers to place illicit proceeds directly into U.S. financial institutions, have resulted in most Mexican and Colombian DTOs avoiding such money laundering methods. Instead, both Mexican and Colombian DTOs transport illicit drug proceeds from U.S. drug markets to other U.S. locations for consolidation. The proceeds often are transported in bulk to an area near the U.S.-Mexico border and are either smuggled into Mexico at Southwest Border ports of entry (POEs), primarily in South Texas, or remitted electronically to Southwest Border locations, where the transferred cash is then smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border.


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