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Mexican DTOs are the dominant wholesale distributors of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana throughout the CBAG region. They use the area as a regional- and national-level distribution center for these drugs, distributing to area drug markets and to drug markets throughout the country, including Boston, Massachusetts; Denver, Colorado; Detroit, Michigan; Honolulu, Hawaii; Los Angeles, California; Portland, Oregon; Tampa, Florida; and Washington, D.C. Mexican DTOs typically store illicit drugs at stash sites throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties, including residences, warehouses, storage facilities, and store fronts. At stash sites, drugs are generally repackaged for distribution throughout the CBAG region and for transportation to drug markets throughout the United States.

Mexican DTOs supply wholesale quantities of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine, primarily to Mexican criminal groups as well as prison gangs, street gangs, and outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs). These groups supply midlevel quantities of illicit drugs to retail distributors--predominantly smaller street gangs and independent dealers. African American, Asian, Caucasian, and Hispanic street gangs dominate retail-level distribution throughout the CBAG region. Approximately 100 street gangs operate in San Diego County, with an estimated total membership of 8,000. Imperial County is home to approximately 52 gangs, with an estimated membership of approximately 1,200.

The distribution of diverted pharmaceuticals, particularly steroids, is prevalent in the CBAG region. Pharmaceutical abusers and distributors from the region often travel to Tijuana, Mexico, to purchase drugs from the large number of pharmacies that are located along the border area--law enforcement officials estimate that Tijuana has approximately 10 times the number of pharmacies than are needed to support its population. Abusers smuggle the drugs into the United States for personal use, while distributors smuggle the drugs for retail-level sales to market areas throughout the United States. Additionally, Caucasian criminal groups and individuals are distributing increasing amounts of diverted pharmaceuticals, including prescription narcotics, sedatives, and steroids that they are acquiring in the CBAG region through traditional diversion methods such as copied or scanned prescriptions, forged prescriptions, theft, and unscrupulous physicians and pharmacists.

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Drug-Related Crime

High levels of violent crime along the U.S.-Mexico border in California are largely a result of the struggle between Mexican DTOs for control of the Baja California drug smuggling routes. Escalating drug-related violence in areas of Mexico that border the CBAG region is most likely a result of retaliation by DTOs against Mexican military and law enforcement personnel participating in counterdrug operations. Violence directed at law enforcement officers, primarily USBP agents, along the border is often intended to deter agents from seizing illicit drug shipments or is used as a diversion to smuggle drug shipments. Chula Vista and areas close to the border are already experiencing increasing numbers of drug-related homicides strikingly similar to those committed by Mexican DTOs in the Tijuana, Mexico, area. Additionally, drug-related kidnappings in the San Diego area are increasing. According to the San Diego Division of the FBI, kidnapping incidents increased 25 percent from 2006 to 2007. This figure may actually be higher because this is a widely underreported problem--many of the victims' families are unwilling or afraid to report the crime to law enforcement for fear that the victim will be killed.

Attack on USBP Agents

On January 19, 2008, USBP agents working in the Imperial Sand Dunes in the Buttercup Valley Campground in Imperial County encountered two vehicles involved in drug smuggling. As the drivers of the vehicles attempted to return to Mexico, USBP agents deployed a tire deflation device. One of the drivers immediately accelerated and turned toward one of the USBP agents, who was on foot. The vehicle struck and killed the agent while he was deploying the tire deflation device. Both drivers of the vehicles fled into Mexico.

Source: Houston Chronicle.

Street gangs in the CBAG region, such as Posole, Vista Homeboys, Deep Valley Bloods, Varios San Marcos, and South Los, that distribute illicit drugs at the retail level often engage in other criminal activities, including assault, auto theft, robbery, homicide, money laundering, and firearms trafficking. These gangs are becoming more sophisticated in their operations and are evolving into well-structured organizations. Law enforcement reporting indicates that Mexican DTOs have cultivated mutually beneficial relationships with some gangs in the CBAG region to facilitate drug trafficking activities. For instance, Mexican DTOs in Tijuana conceal black tar heroin in vehicles and hire street gang members from North County to drive the vehicles into the United States. Once in the United States, the street gang members transfer the heroin to members of the Mexican DTO.

Illicit drug abusers in the region often engage in property crime to acquire money to purchase illicit drugs. The San Diego Police Department reports that abusers in its jurisdiction, particularly methamphetamine abusers, commonly commit identity theft, automobile theft, shoplifting, or prostitution to support their addictions. Additionally, methamphetamine abusers in the region often generate cash by stealing and subsequently cashing personal checks or by using stolen credit cards to purchase merchandise that they sell for cash or trade for methamphetamine.

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