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Strategic Drug Threat Developments
- The Gulf Coast HIDTA region is the primary transportation corridor used
by Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) to transport large amounts
of powder cocaine, ice methamphetamine, commercial-grade marijuana, and smaller
amounts of Mexican brown powder and black tar heroin from the Southwest Border
area and Mexico to Atlanta, Georgia--a national-level drug distribution center--and
other areas in the southeast, such as North Carolina and Memphis, Tennessee.
- Shortages in wholesale quantities of powder cocaine first noted in 2007
continued to be reported by some law enforcement agencies in the Gulf Coast
HIDTA region through 2008. Nonetheless, cocaine remains available at the retail
level, and quantities are sufficient to meet local demand.
- The diversion, distribution, and abuse of controlled prescription drugs
(CPDs) such as analgesic patches, Dilaudid (hydromorphone), hydrocodone,
methadone, OxyContin (ovycodone), and Xanax (alprazolam), as well as the
prescription drug Soma (carisoprodol) are serious threats to the Gulf Coast
HIDTA region, particularly HIDTA counties in Louisiana and Mississippi. Physicians working in pain management clinics in Louisiana
and Houston, Texas, are significant sources for CPDs available in the region.
- Methamphetamine laboratory seizure data suggest rising methamphetamine production
in the region. The number of reported methamphetamine laboratory seizures in
the region decreased each year from 2004 through 2007; however, 2008 data indicate
that methamphetamine production is increasing. This increase can be largely
attributed to a circumvention of state and federal pseudoephedrine sales restrictions
by individuals and criminal groups who make numerous small-quantity pseudoephedrine
product purchases from multiple retail outlets and by producers who make small
quantities of methamphetamine using the one-pot cook method.
The Gulf Coast HIDTA region encompasses 25 counties and parishes throughout Alabama,
Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. (See
Figure 1 in Preface.) New
Orleans, Louisiana, is the primary drug market in the region; however, the city
has not returned to its 2005 prehurricane Katrina status as a drug distribution
center. Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Shreveport, Louisiana; Biloxi, Jackson, and
Oxford, Mississippi; and Birmingham, Huntsville, and Montgomery, Alabama, are secondary
drug markets. (See Figure
2 in Transportation section.) Most drug markets in the region are retail-level
markets that are dependent upon sources of supply located outside the region in
Atlanta; Dallas and Houston, Texas; and Memphis. For example, traffickers in Atlanta
supply illicit drugs to Birmingham, Huntsville, and Montgomery; traffickers in Dallas
and Houston supply illicit drugs to markets throughout Louisiana, parts of Arkansas,
and Biloxi; and traffickers in Memphis supply illicit drugs to Oxford and parts
The Gulf Coast HIDTA region is the primary transit area that Mexican DTOs use
to transport illicit drugs from sources of supply in southwestern states and Mexico
to Atlanta and other areas in the southeast such as Memphis and North Carolina.
Mexican DTOs transport powder cocaine, ice methamphetamine, commercial-grade marijuana,
and Mexican brown powder and black tar heroin from sources along the Southwest Border
to Atlanta using Interstates 10 and 20 and to Memphis and North Carolina using I-40.
(See Figure 2 in Transportation
section.) A portion of these drugs are sold to traffickers in the Gulf Coast HIDTA
region for local distribution. In addition, Mexican DTOs transport bulk cash from
illicit drug sales in eastern drug markets and from Atlanta through the region to
the Southwest Border area and Mexico.
End of page.