National Drug Intelligence
Mexican DTOs and criminal groups7 are the principal wholesale drug distributors in the Appalachia HIDTA region. African American, Caucasian, and Mexican DTOs and criminal groups as well as street gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) distribute a variety of drugs at the retail level and midlevel throughout the region. In 2007, law enforcement officials affiliated with Appalachia HIDTA Initiatives identified 201 DTOs and four money laundering organizations operating within the region; 31 of the organizations were dismantled and another 53 were disrupted. Most of the 201 identified DTOs are polydrug organizations that transport and distribute a number of drugs, including powder cocaine (101 organizations), marijuana (56), crack cocaine (41), diverted pharmaceuticals (30), and powder and ice methamphetamine (13).8 The majority of the organizations identified in the HIDTA Initiatives are African American, Caucasian, and Mexican. However, a Vietnamese9 DTO and a Middle Eastern DTO10 were also identified.
Drug trafficking organizations are complex organizations with highly defined command-and-control structures that produce, transport, and/or distribute large quantities of one or more illicit drugs.
Criminal groups operating in the United States are numerous and range from small to moderately sized, loosely knit groups that distribute one or more drugs at the retail level and midlevel.
are defined by the National Alliance of Gang Investigators' Associations as
groups or associations of three or more persons with a common identifying sign,
symbol, or name, the members of which individually or collectively engage in
criminal activity that creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
Mexican DTOs and criminal groups routinely supply wholesale quantities of powder cocaine, Mexican marijuana, and Mexican powder methamphetamine to other traffickers for distribution in the region. They also distribute these drugs at the retail level as well as Mexican brown powder and black tar heroin and ice methamphetamine. Mexican DTOs and criminal groups operating in the region typically obtain their supplies of illicit drugs from Atlanta-based Mexican DTOs. Additionally, Mexican DTOs and criminal groups are beginning to become increasingly involved in cannabis cultivation in Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. These Mexican DTOs and criminal groups sometimes cultivate cannabis on behalf of Caucasian DTOs. Appalachia HIDTA officials report that Mexican DTOs and criminal groups are increasingly using cultural and social connections among the growing Hispanic population in the region to expand their distribution networks.11
Caucasian DTOs, criminal groups, and independent dealers are the principal cannabis cultivators and methamphetamine producers in the HIDTA region; they also are the principal retail-level and midlevel drug distributors in many rural areas. Caucasian DTOs typically distribute locally produced marijuana, Mexican marijuana, powder methamphetamine, powder cocaine, and prescription drugs. Caucasian DTOs generally produce the marijuana and methamphetamine they distribute; they obtain their supplies of most other illicit drugs from Mexican DTOs and criminal groups operating in the region. Moreover, Caucasian traffickers are increasingly traveling to southwestern states to purchase powder methamphetamine and, to a lesser degree, high-purity ice methamphetamine; they transport the drugs to the region in private vehicles for distribution in local drug markets.
African American DTOs and criminal groups are the principal retail-level and midlevel distributors in many urban areas of the Appalachia HIDTA region. They typically distribute powder and crack cocaine, marijuana, and heroin, among other drugs. In addition, African American DTOs and criminal groups based outside the Appalachia HIDTA region frequently transport illicit drugs into the region for further distribution. For instance, African American criminal groups based in Columbus and Detroit frequently travel to the region to distribute powder and crack cocaine and heroin. Moreover, Columbus-based African American distributors sell Mexican black tar heroin to African American and Caucasian abusers in Mason County, West Virginia.
Local and nationally affiliated street gangs and, to a lesser extent, OMGs distribute illicit drugs in the Appalachia HIDTA region. Street gang activity is prevalent among African American and Hispanic youths in the region. Local street gangs commonly adopt multiple facets of gang culture from national-level street gangs, often by observing them over the Internet, rather than through contact with the national-level gangs. Moreover, local gangs usually do not exhibit the organizational structure, written code, or defined member roles associated with national-level street gangs. African American street gangs, such as Black Gangster Disciples (BGD) and 304 Crew, typically distribute significant quantities of powder and crack cocaine, marijuana, and lesser quantities of prescription drugs and MDMA. Hispanic street gangs such as Vatos Locos, Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13), and Latin Kings are active in the Tennessee counties of the Appalachia HIDTA region; these gang members typically distribute significant quantities of powder cocaine, Mexican marijuana, Mexican black tar heroin and, to a lesser degree, Mexican ice methamphetamine. Numerous OMGs, such as Outlaws, Southern Sons, Black Pistons, and Pagan's, are active in the Appalachia HIDTA region; OMG members typically distribute moderate to low-level quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, MDMA, and prescription drugs.
drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and criminal groups in the
Appalachia HIDTA region are frequently composed of illegal immigrants from
Mexico, Americans of Mexican descent, or a combination of both.
8. The total exceeds 201 because an organization may traffic in more than one drug.
9. The Sevier County, Tennessee, Sheriff's Office reported that a Vietnamese young adult male sold MDMA to Caucasian young adults in Sevier County; however, it appeared that this was an isolated incident because MDMA has not been seized on the street since this individual was arrested.
10. No further information on Middle Eastern DTOs is available at this time.
11. According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2000 (the latest year for which such data are available), Caucasians account for 93 percent of the Appalachia HIDTA population, followed by African Americans (5%), Hispanics and Asians (2%), and other races (less than 1%). Further, the Hispanic population grew over 276 percent from 9,178 in 1990 to 34,527 in 2000.
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