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Nevada High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis
June 2007


Mexican DTOs dominate the wholesale distribution of methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin in the Nevada HIDTA region. These DTOs typically store illicit drugs at local stash sites, primarily residences located in Hispanic communities, where they repackage the drugs for distribution to markets in Nevada and other states.

Short-Term Fluctuation in Methamphetamine Price and Purity in Las Vegas

Beginning in late 2005 in the Las Vegas area, local Mexican trafficking cells were experiencing difficulty meeting local demand for ice methamphetamine. Law enforcement reporting indicated that pound and ounce prices of methamphetamine in the area rose in late 2005, while retail-level purity decreased. This trend continued through the first 6 months of 2006. These changes may be attributed, in whole or in part, to a shortage of precursor chemicals available for methamphetamine production as a result of the implementation of precursor chemical regulatory controls by the government of Mexico in that same year, in addition to the 2005 seizure of a superlab and approximately 500 kilograms of ice methamphetamine in Mexico.

Local Mexican DTOs also serve as primary midlevel and retail distributors of Mexican methamphetamine. The involvement of local Mexican DTOs in ice methamphetamine distribution has been increasing as local powder methamphetamine production by independent distributors has decreased. These local Mexican DTOs are typically associated with large Mexican DTOs that produce methamphetamine in Mexico for distribution in U.S. drug markets. Hispanic street gangs also are involved in methamphetamine distribution at the retail level.

African American street gangs are the primary distributors of crack cocaine in the Nevada HIDTA region. Some smaller Mexican criminal groups also are involved in retail crack distribution, but to a far lesser extent. Distribution of crack typically occurs at open-air markets in lower-income sections of Clark County's larger urban communities. In the Las Vegas area, crack is distributed particularly in the western section of Las Vegas and on street corners in the city's old "Strip" section downtown. Crack cocaine distribution in Washoe County is almost exclusively controlled by African American traffickers.

Asian DTOs distribute MDMA in Las Vegas and high-potency marijuana in Reno. Asian DTOs supply Asian gangs with MDMA for retail distribution; the gangs typically distribute the drug in the Las Vegas entertainment district, especially in nightclubs. Asian DTOs, composed primarily of Vietnamese criminals, distribute high-potency BC Bud from Canada in the region; they also distribute high-potency marijuana that is grown in the region and in the northwestern United States.

The diversion of pharmaceutical drugs in the Nevada HIDTA region is increasing. Independent dealers in almost all age and ethnic groups are the principal distributors of these drugs--primarily Lortab, OxyContin, Percocet, Soma, and Vicodin.

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