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National Drug Threat Summary

The trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs inflict tremendous harm upon individuals, families, and communities throughout the country. The violence, intimidation, theft, and financial crimes carried out by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), criminal groups, gangs, and drug users in the United States pose a significant threat to our nation. The cost to society from drug production, trafficking, and abuse is difficult to fully measure or convey; however, the most recent data available are helpful in framing the extent of the threat. For example:

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DTOs rapidly adapt to law enforcement and policy initiatives that disrupt their drug trafficking operations. Law enforcement and intelligence reporting revealed several strategic shifts by DTOs in drug production and trafficking in 2007 and early 2008, attributed in part to the success of counterdrug agencies in disrupting the operations of DTOs. Many of these shifts represent immediate new challenges for policymakers and resource planners. The National Drug Threat Assessment 2009 outlines the progress and emerging counterdrug challenges in detailed strategic findings, including the following:

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DTOs, gangs, and drug users continually adapt to changes in drug policy, counterdrug initiatives, and numerous other factors that affect their operations. Although forecasting strategic drug trends is difficult because of significant intelligence gaps, the National Drug Threat Assessment 2009 presents several predictive estimates regarding drug trafficking and abuse, including the following:

End Note

1. The relative threat posed by a specific drug requires a subjective analytic assessment based on many considerations, such as the cost of interdiction, seizure, and eradication; the number of individuals using or addicted to the drug; the level of availability in U.S. drug markets; the extent and organization of distribution groups; the level of violence associated with distribution and use of the drug; the level of property crime associated with use of the drug; and the level of involvement by international drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and gangs.

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