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North Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
May 2007

Drug Overview

The North Texas HIDTA region is a significant national-level distribution and transshipment center for illicit drugs supplied by Mexican DTOs. Mexican DTOs exploit the region's proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border, extensive transportation infrastructure, and global financial institutions and use the area to distribute wholesale quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. Mexican DTOs also warehouse significant quantities of illicit drugs in the region for eventual transport to markets nationwide, such as those in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is the principal drug distribution center in the region; however, Oklahoma City also figures prominently in regional drug trafficking.

Methamphetamine and cocaine, both powder and crack, pose the greatest drug threats to the HIDTA region. Methamphetamine distribution and abuse have increased significantly in recent years throughout most areas of the HIDTA region. Although local production has decreased, the amount of ice methamphetamine supplied to the area by Mexican DTOs has increased. Powder cocaine and crack cocaine are particular threats to low-income areas of Dallas, Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa. Marijuana poses a serious drug threat to the North Texas HIDTA region; the drug is always available to the area's illicit drug abuser community because large quantities are smuggled to and through the area from Mexico by Mexican DTOs. Heroin, primarily Mexican black tar, is abused in the region, but to a lesser extent than other drugs. However, heroin is a growing problem in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, particularly in suburban communities. Diverted pharmaceuticals pose significant risks to the region's teens and young adults--the demographic with the highest level of pharmaceutical abuse. Because the North Texas HIDTA region is a regional- and national-level center for wholesale drug distribution, law enforcement officers regularly seize significant quantities of illicit drugs throughout the area. (See Table 1 and Table 2.)

Table 1. Highway Interdiction Drug and Currency Seizures in Texas and North Texas HIDTA Counties, 2006*
Drug Texas North Texas HIDTA County
Cocaine 2,428.9 kilograms 49.1 kilograms
Methamphetamine 128.9 kilograms 4.3 kilograms
Marijuana 41,559.1 kilograms 2,387.0 kilograms
Heroin 13,095.5 grams 26.3 grams
Currency $20,865,714.37 $1,112,767.00

Source: Texas Department of Public Safety.
*Data are based solely on seizures made by Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.

Table 2. North Texas HIDTA Initiative Drug Seizures, in Kilograms, 2005-2006
Drug 2005 2006 Percent of Change
Methamphetamine 34.4 314.6 815
Cocaine 229.3 706.2 208
Marijuana 6,259.6 9,126.7 46
Heroin 5.4 2.2 -59

Source: North Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

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Illicit drug production in the region primarily entails methamphetamine production; however, production has decreased sharply during the past several years, most notably in North Texas HIDTA counties, as evidenced by declining laboratory seizures. In 2006 only two North Texas HIDTA
counties--Dallas and Tarrant--reported methamphetamine laboratory seizures. Only 7 methamphetamine laboratories were seized in those two counties in 2006 as compared to 27 in 2005 and 57 in 2004. (See Table 3.) The rapid decline of local methamphetamine production was a result of legislation in both states that restricted retail sales of pseudoephedrine and increased law enforcement operations targeting methamphetamine laboratories. Oklahoma House Bill 2167, enacted in April 2004, and Texas House Bill 164, enacted in September 2005, greatly reduced the availability of pseudoephedrine in these states. Additionally, growing demand for ice methamphetamine in the region coupled with the transfer of most methamphetamine production capabilities to Mexico has fueled the decline in local methamphetamine production. Mexican DTOs can more efficiently and inexpensively produce ice methamphetamine in Mexico and smuggle it into the United States from Mexico than manufacture it in laboratories in the United States. Local cannabis cultivation and marijuana production are limited in North Texas HIDTA counties, primarily because of the abundance of inexpensive Mexican marijuana. Crack cocaine is converted from powder cocaine throughout the North Texas HIDTA region, primarily in Dallas/Fort Worth and Oklahoma City.

Table 3. Number of Methamphetamine Laboratory Seizures in North Texas HIDTA Counties, 2004-2006
Texas County 2004 2005 2006
Collin 4 1 0
Dallas 13 12 4
Denton 3 1 0
Ellis 8 0 0
Henderson 3 0 0
Hood 1 1 0
Hunt 0 0 0
Johnson 3 1 0
Kaufman 0 0 0
Lubbock 6 2 0
Navarro 0 0 0
Parker 6 2 0
Rockwall 0 0 0
Smith 0 0 0
Tarrant 44 15 3
Totals for Texas Counties 91 35 7
Oklahoma County 2004 2005 2006
Cleveland 1 0 0
Comanche 4 3 1
Muskogee 11 5 2
Oklahoma 64 12 8
Sequoyah 6 26 10
Tulsa 93 28 22
Totals for Oklahoma Counties 179 74 43
North Texas HIDTA Counties Totals 270 109 50

Source: National Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System,* run date 01/31/07.
*National Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System is a voluntary reporting system and may not reflect all laboratory seizures.

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Drug Trafficking Organizations

Local distributors and large international DTOs, varying in both scope and sophistication, operate in the North Texas HIDTA region. Mexican DTOs are the most influential drug traffickers in the region, inundating North Texas with large quantities of illicit drugs. They are the primary wholesale distributors of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine to the area and are the ultimate source of supply for most of the region's drug traffickers and distributors. In addition, many Mexican DTOs are establishing multiple transportation and distribution cells throughout North Texas to facilitate their trafficking operations. The influence that Mexican DTOs exert over drug trafficking in the region is increasing and is also altering the way that other drug traffickers in the area operate.

Drug traffickers in the North Texas HIDTA region emulate the trafficking and distribution practices of Mexican DTOs and diversify their operations in order to compete in the local drug market. Polydrug distribution, a routine practice among Mexican DTOs, is now common among the region's drug traffickers; many are now distributing multiple drugs, some of which they typically had not distributed in the past. In addition, regional dealers are increasing their interaction and drug transactions with Mexican DTOs and other traffickers to facilitate their own drug trafficking activities. Law enforcement reporting during the past year indicates that Asian DTOs and criminal groups from Dallas, the Pacific Northwest, and Canada are trading MDMA to Mexican DTOs for cocaine, not only within North Texas counties but at the U.S.-Mexico border area in Texas as well. This development was noted in Fort Worth, but the extent to which this practice occurs throughout the North Texas HIDTA region is currently unknown. It is possibly more cost-effective for Asian DTOs to trade for or purchase cocaine near the U.S.-Mexico border than farther north as a result of the elimination of transportation surcharges associated with cocaine movement into the interior of the United States.

The role of African American criminal groups in the local drug market appears to be expanding. These groups historically limited their distribution operations to crack cocaine; however, they are now becoming polydrug distributors in nature, distributing several illicit drugs at the same market site. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and several local law enforcement agencies in Texas and Oklahoma, a growing number of African American distributors now distribute powder cocaine and methamphetamine in addition to crack cocaine. Moreover, law enforcement officers in Fort Worth report that African American criminal groups are also distributing Mexican black tar heroin that they obtain from Mexican traffickers and MDMA from Asian sources throughout low-income areas of Fort Worth.

Asian criminal groups also are active in the North Texas HIDTA region. They transport high-potency marijuana and MDMA from California, Washington, and Canada to North Texas. Asian traffickers also operate indoor cannabis grow sites in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area. Law enforcement officers in the North Texas HIDTA do not report Asian criminal group involvement with ice methamphetamine. However, such involvement has been reported in other areas of the Southwest and Pacific Regions and may emerge in the North Texas HIDTA region as the interaction between Asian drug traffickers and Mexican DTOs increases.

Various prison gangs and street gangs distribute illicit drugs throughout the North Texas HIDTA region, but their distribution activities are concentrated primarily in larger metropolitan areas. The involvement that these gangs have in local drug markets often differs based on connections with larger DTOs. Prison gangs, including Tango Blast and Texas Syndicate, are typically connected to Mexican DTOs and sources of supply. These connections allow them to serve as midlevel distributors of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine while also maintaining their own retail distribution networks. Members of prison gangs also transport illicit drug shipments into HIDTA communities from the U.S.-Mexico border area and Mexico and distribute illicit drugs to the region's street gangs. Street gangs serve primarily as retail distributors in local drug markets; however, drug distribution is often an individual endeavor on the part of gang members rather than a gang-controlled activity. Street gangs' connections to larger sources of supply are limited compared with those of prison gangs; individual gang members typically distribute only those drugs that they are able to obtain locally.

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