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Dallas/Fort Worth and Oklahoma City Market Areas

Dallas/Fort Worth and Oklahoma City are the two most significant drug markets in the North Texas HIDTA region. These cities serve as key transshipment and distribution centers for illicit drugs available in the HIDTA region and throughout the United States, particularly in southwestern, midwestern, and eastern drug markets.


Dallas/Fort Worth


The Dallas/Fort Worth area is a national-level transportation and distribution center for cocaine, marijuana, ice methamphetamine, and heroin in and outside the North Texas HIDTA region. Mexican DTOs control the transportation of wholesale quantities of these illicit drugs to the area for distribution. They further transport illicit drugs from the area to major domestic drug markets throughout the country for distribution.


The production of illicit drugs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is generally limited to crack cocaine conversion, cannabis cultivation, and methamphetamine production. According to NSS data, of the four powder methamphetamine laboratories seized in the 15 Texas counties of the North Texas HIDTA in 2008, three were located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area (two laboratories seized in Dallas County and one in Tarrant County). (See Table 4 in Drug Threat Overview section.) All of these laboratories were capable of producing small, personal-use amounts of methamphetamine--Dallas County, 2 ounces or less and Tarrant County, 9 ounces to 1 pound--some of which could have been used for limited distribution. Law enforcement reporting indicates that local methamphetamine production appears to be increasing in some non-HIDTA counties in northern Texas; however, this trend has yet to have a significant impact on local production in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.


Mexican DTOs smuggle multikilogram to multiton quantities of illicit drugs into the Dallas/Fort Worth area, usually overland in private and commercial vehicles. They commonly smuggle drug shipments from Mexico into the United States through major POEs, such as El Paso, Laredo, McAllen, and Brownsville, or through smaller towns along the Southwest Border, and then transport the contraband along eastbound or northbound highways to drug markets such as Dallas/Fort Worth for staging purposes and/or distribution. Some DTOs instruct their transporters to drive certain drug shipments from Mexico directly to the Dallas/Fort Worth area before unloading their illicit cargo.

Mexican DTOs also smuggle significant quantities of illicit drugs to and through the Dallas/Fort Worth area using commercial bus lines and mail and package delivery services. Law enforcement reporting indicates that Los Zetas members use commercial buses owned by certain regional bus lines to smuggle drugs to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Mexican traffickers also use mail and package delivery services to facilitate drug smuggling to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. In January 2009 a package delivery service inadvertently delivered a box containing a 30-pound brick of marijuana to a Denton, Texas, address. The package had been shipped from Pharr, Texas (near the Southwest Border), and addressed to a nonexistent Dallas location. In an attempt to deliver the package, the delivery service diverted it to a similar address in Denton (a city located approximately 40 miles northeast of Dallas), where the recipient of the package, expecting a shipment of tools, discovered the marijuana and turned it over to local police officials.

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Illicit drugs smuggled into the North Texas HIDTA region are usually transported by Mexican traffickers to stash houses in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for local and regional distribution or to locations where the drugs are consolidated and repackaged for distribution and/or transshipment to other drug markets. Mexican DTOs and other trafficking organizations use the Dallas/Fort Worth area to distribute illicit drugs to significant drug markets, particularly those in the southeastern, midwestern, and central United States.

Cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine are available in the Dallas/Fort Worth area; however, while seizures of most of those drugs increased in Dallas County over the past 2 years, such seizures generally decreased in Tarrant County during the same period. According to NSS data, law enforcement officers seized more cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine but less heroin in Dallas County in 2008 than in 2007, while law enforcement officers seized decreased amounts of major illicit drugs in Tarrant County during the same period, with the exception of methamphetamine. (See Table 8.) Seizure totals for heroin and methamphetamine in Dallas County followed the overall trend for those drugs in the 15 Texas counties in the HIDTA region--decreased seizure totals for heroin and increased seizure totals for methamphetamine. Cocaine seizure amounts in Dallas County increased 50 percent in 2008 when compared with 2007 seizure amounts but did not follow the overall trend for the Texas counties in the HIDTA region, which experienced a substantial decline (35%) in cocaine amounts seized during the same period. Marijuana seizure amounts in Dallas County increased more than 100 percent in 2008 when compared with 2007 seizure amounts; however marijuana seizure amounts in the Texas counties of the HIDTA region decreased 5 percent during the same period. (See Table 9.)

Table 8. Drug Seizures in the North Texas HIDTA, by County, in Kilograms, 2006-2008*

County Cocaine (Powder and Crack) Heroin Marijuana Methamphetamine
(Powder and Ice)
2006 2007 2008 2006 2007 2008 2006 2007 2008 2006 2007 2008
Collin 21.35 113.44 7.94 NR NR NR 57.15 64.05 405.10 8.61 0.95 1.68
Dallas 762.46 432.41 648.18 17.47 12.66 6.26 6,401.94 3,968.64 8,507.99 91.16 74.23 311.50
Denton 42.75 252.35 4.90 2.77 NR 1.18 1,504.68 100.26 93.52 13.55 2.18 13.59
Ellis 63.00 136.98 NR NR NR NR NR NR 0.06 NR NR NR
Hunt 56.00 NR 4.00 NR NR NR 6.80 554.29 32.33 NR 0.07 NR
Johnson NR 0.01 NR NR NR NR NR NR NR 0.02 NR NR
Kaufman 159.31 1.40 1.14 NR NR NR 2.27 318.23 601.18 0.52 0.93 0.02
Lubbock 8.61 1.63 3.32 NR NR NR 85.78 2,046.60 138.25 1.22 2.85 3.88
Navarro NR NR NR NR NR NR 0.06 31.30 NR NR 0.03 NR
Parker 0.04 23.02 30.30 NR NR NR 572.84 4,650.20 613.25 0.05 0.02 5.90
Rockwall NR 19.98 1.19 NR NR NR NR 57.15 300.21 NR 0.45 0.15
Smith 171.10 78.23 1.71 0.21 NR NR 50.41 296.19 1,340.36 0.66 5.86 3.44
Tarrant 12.33 32.82 5.00 1.71 6.81 NR 728.81 1,537.04 910.36 27.82 2.15 12.71
Subtotal 1,296.97 1,092.27 707.65 22.17 19.46 7.44 9,410.74 13,623.96 12,942.61 143.62 89.73 352.88
Cleveland NR 23.81 0.27 NR NR NR 352.89 210.02 14.74 NR 4.18 0.61
Comanche NR NR 2.13 NR NR NR NR NR 31.75 NR NR NR
Muskogee 5.00 NR NR NR NR NR 77.11 NR NR NR 0.31 NR
Oklahoma 328.26 143.23 19.72 NR NR 23.13 697.77 549.20 386.33 0.71 13.35 11.88
Sequoyah 4.99 4.26 2.51 1.04 NR 8.16 95.25 786.08 106.82 2.18 0.05 0.01
Tulsa 1.23 NR 7.33 NR 2.86 NR 0.68 0.01 69.86 5.26 4.44 1.08
Subtotal 339.48 171.30 31.96 1.04 2.86 31.30 1,223.70 1,545.30 609.52 8.15 22.32 13.58
North Texas HIDTA 1,636.45 1,263.57 739.61 23.21 22.32 38.74 10,634.44 15,169.26 13,552.13 151.76 112.05 366.46

Source: National Seizure System, as of January 23, 2009.
* NSS data is based on voluntary reporting and may not include all seizures occurring in the North Texas HIDTA region. Subtotals and totals may not agree with individual county seizure amounts as a result of rounding.
NR--None reported.

Table 9. Drug Seizures in Dallas and Tarrant Counties in the North Texas HIDTA, in Kilograms, 2006-2008

Drug by County 2006 Percent of
Total 2006
2007 Percent of
Total 2007
Percent Change
2008 Percent of
Total 2008
Percent Change
Cocaine (Powder and Crack)
Dallas 762 59 432 40 -43 648 92 50
Tarrant 12 1 33 3 175 5 1 -85
All Texas Counties in
North Texas HIDTA
1,297 100 1,092 100 -16 708 100 -35
Dallas 17 77 13 68 -24 6 86 -54
Tarrant 2 9 7 37 250 NR 14 -86
All Texas Counties in
North Texas HIDTA
22 100 19 100 -14 7 100 -63
Dallas 6,402 68 3,969 29 -38 8,508 66 114
Tarrant 729 8 1,537 11 111 910 7 -41
All Texas Counties in
North Texas HIDTA
9,411 100 13,624 100 45 12,943 100 -5
Methamphetamine (Powder and Ice)
Dallas 91 63 74 82 -19 312 88 322
Tarrant 28 19 2 2 -93 13 4 550
All Texas Counties in
North Texas HIDTA
144 100 90 100 -38 353 100 292

Source: National Seizure System, data run January 22, 2009.
NR--None reported.

Despite the overall decline in heroin seizures in the Dallas/Fort Worth area in 2008, investigative intelligence suggests that the availability of heroin has not decreased. In fact, law enforcement reporting indicates that demand for the drug has increased and suppliers of the drug are keeping up with that demand. Most of the heroin distributed in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is Mexican black tar heroin, some of which is used to make cheese heroin. According to Dallas police officers, street-level dealers of cheese heroin typically possess between 50 to 100 "balls" or "bumps" of cheese heroin at a time, which they sell for as little as $2 each or $10 per gram. Hispanic youths, including some street gang members, are the primary distributors of cheese.

Mexican DTOs are the principal wholesale distributors of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, while Asian DTOs are the principal distributors of MDMA and hydroponic marijuana. Local independent distributors as well as members of street gangs, prison gangs, and OMGs make up a significant portion of the midlevel and retail-level drug distributors operating in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The majority of gang-related criminal involvement falls within one of two categories--drug (trafficking and/or use) and violent criminal conduct (most of which is drug-related). As of June 2008 (the latest date for which data are available), the Dallas Police Department Gang Unit had identified 102 street gangs and more than 4,000 documented gang members operating in the city of Dallas. Bloods, Crips, Tango Blast, and East Side Homeboys--the largest Hispanic gang in the Dallas area and one of the most violent--are some of the most prominent street gangs that distribute illicit drugs in the area (see Table 10); however, many other gangs also distribute illicit drugs, usually at the retail level. In addition, as of September 2008 (the latest date for which data are available), law enforcement officers in the Fort Worth area identified 224 documented street gangs, 47 of which are currently active in the jurisdiction. Officials estimate that the total number of gang members in the Fort Worth area ranges from 5,000 to 5,500 members.

Table 10. Drug Distribution by Gangs in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area, 2008

Gang Ethnicity Type Drug
Bandidos Caucasian and Hispanic OMG Cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine
Bloods African American Street Cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, PCP
Crips African American Street Cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, PCP
East Side Homeboys Hispanic Street Methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, marijuana
Hermanos de Pistoleros Latinos (HPL) Hispanic Prison Cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine
Latin Kings Hispanic Street Cocaine, heroin, marijuana
Tango Blast Hispanic Prison clique/Street Cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, heroin
Texas Syndicate Mexican American Prison Cocaine, marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, MDMA
Untouchable Crips Asian Street MDMA, methamphetamine, marijuana

Source: Law enforcement interviews.

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Drug-Related Crime

Local street gangs that distribute illicit drugs also contribute to other criminal activity that occurs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The majority of all street gang activity involves the trafficking of illicit drugs (see Table 10) and/or weapons. In the Dallas area, law enforcement officers report that some violent crime in the city is directly related to street gangs or individuals involved in street gang activity. For example, Tango Blast members in Dallas (estimated to number between 200 and 1,000) have a propensity for violence and often engage in criminal activities, including drug trafficking, auto theft, burglary, illegal immigrant smuggling, home invasion robbery, kidnapping, and murder. Moreover, in 2008, federal prosecutors indicted 14 members of a Dallas-based cell of the Texas Syndicate prison gang under RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization) statutes for their roles in a criminal conspiracy that included murders and the trafficking of massive quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana in the Dallas area. In August 2008 the leader of the cell was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the conspiracy. This was the first time that federal prosecutors in North Texas had used RICO statutes to dismantle a violent prison gang.

Gang members and other criminals arrested on drug trafficking violations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are frequently in possession of firearms, which they either carry to protect their drug supplies/defend their distribution territories or, to a lesser extent, intend to smuggle into Mexico. Many obtain firearms and weapons by burglarizing area businesses, private homes, and vehicles or purchasing them illegally through straw purchasers. Additionally, Mexican criminals are increasingly smuggling stolen and illegally purchased guns, particularly assault rifles, to Mexico for use by DTO enforcers. The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) estimates that every year thousands of weapons are smuggled into Mexico. According to an ATF firearms trace study, Texas was the most common source state for firearms recovered in Mexico from 2005 through 2007, and Dallas was among the top U.S. source cities in each of the 3 years. Fort Worth was among the top U.S. source cities in 2005 and 2006. In October 2008 a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper stopped a vehicle on I-35 near Denton (located just north of Dallas and Tarrant Counties) and discovered 17 assault-type rifles, thousands of rounds of ammunition, body armor, and 20 black ski masks. The suspects, who were already under investigation by the ATF for smuggling guns to Mexico, were part of an interstate weapons smuggling operation. Many of the serial numbers on the weapons had been obliterated.


More than half of the adult drug-related treatment admissions in the 15 Texas counties located in the North Texas HIDTA region occurred in Dallas and Tarrant Counties each year from 2006 through 2008. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), the number of heroin- and marijuana/hashish-related treatment admissions in Dallas and Tarrant Counties increased overall from 2006 through 2008, while the combined totals for powder cocaine-, crack cocaine-, and methamphetamine/amphetamine-related admissions decreased during the same period. In 2008 the number of admissions for heroin-related treatment in Dallas and Tarrant Counties exceeded the number of treatment admissions for any other drug category that year. In addition, from 2006 through 2008, approximately 90 percent of all heroin-related treatment admissions reported in Texas counties of the North Texas HIDTA region occurred in Dallas and Tarrant Counties. During the same 3-year period, the combined number of heroin-related treatment admissions in the two counties increased almost 26 percent overall. (See Table 11.) These increases are most likely a result of the increasing availability of heroin (primarily Mexican black tar) in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and the addictiveness of the drug.

Table 11. Adult Drug-Related Treatment Admissions in Texas Counties in the North Texas HIDTA, by Drug, 2006-2008

Drug by County 2006 Percent of
Total 2006
2007 Percent of
Total 2007
Percent Change
2008 Percent of
Total 2008
Percent Change
Powder Cocaine
Dallas 385 50 348 41 -10 281 40 -19
Tarrant 207 27 233 28 13 256 36 10
All Texas Counties in
North Texas HIDTA
771 100 840 100 9 706 100 -16
Crack Cocaine
Dallas 1,388 52 1,277 52 -8 1,097 49 -14
Tarrant 749 28 666 27 -11 670 30 1
All Texas Counties in
North Texas HIDTA
2,685 100 2,477 100 -8 2,227 100 -10
Dallas 1,404 64 1,686 67 20 1,708 64 1
Tarrant 524 24 590 24 13 721 27 22
All Texas Counties in
North Texas HIDTA
2,183 100 2,504 100 15 2,687 100 7
Dallas 417 30 517 33 24 475 30 -8
Tarrant 336 24 406 26 21 447 28 10
All Texas Counties in
North Texas HIDTA
1,406 100 1,578 100 12 1,572 100 0
Dallas 716 26 653 25 -9 555 27 -15
Tarrant 905 33 788 31 -13 731 36 -7
All Texas Counties in
North Texas HIDTA
2,750 100 2,578 100 -6 2,053 100 -20

Source: Texas Department of State Health Services.
Note: North Texas HIDTA county totals have omitted admissions in any drug category with a frequency of less than 10 as a result of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act confidentiality requirements; therefore, actual totals are slightly higher than those represented.

The demand for and abuse of cheese heroin is a major concern to law enforcement and health officials in the Dallas area. Deaths attributed to the abuse of cheese heroin declined in Dallas County, which includes the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), during the 2007/2008 school year14 (7 deaths as compared with 16 in 2006/2007 and 7 in 2005/2006); however, deaths related to use of the drug combination continue to be reported. In January of the 2008/2009 school year, two teenage girls died in separate incidents from suspected cheese heroin overdoses. (See Table 12.) Drug dealers, often young Hispanics, combine Mexican black tar heroin with crushed cold tablets and then sell the mixture to a customer base that targets primarily school age children. During the second half of the 2007/2008 school year, heroin-related arrests in the DISD began to increase (45 arrests from January through July 2008 as compared with 16 arrests from August through December 2007). During the first half of the 2008/2009 school year (August 2008 through December 2008), heroin-related arrests on DISD campuses (26 arrests) increased almost 63 percent when compared with arrests during the same period in 2007 (16 arrests). Even after years of public awareness campaigns addressing the dangers of heroin use, heroin-related arrests during the 2007/2008 school year made up more than 20 percent of all DISD campus drug arrests. For the current school year through February 2009, more than 16 percent of drug arrests on DISD campuses have been heroin-related. In addition, authorities at residential substance abuse treatment centers in the Dallas area note that there has been no decline in the number of clients under the age of 18 who are being admitted for heroin-related treatment at these facilities. Reporting by treatment authorities and DISD statistics also indicate an increase in the number of females abusing cheese heroin.

Table 12. Cheese Heroin-Related Deaths of Youth in Dallas County School Districts, 2005/2006-2008/2009*

School Area School Year Total
2005/2006 2006/2007 2007/2008 2008/2009
Dallas Independent School District (DISD) 2 9 5 2 18
Dallas County** 7 16 7 3 33

Source: Dallas Independent School District Police Department.
* School year data are current through February 2009.
** Includes all public schools within Dallas County, including those in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD).

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Illicit Finance

The Dallas/Fort Worth area is a primary banking and financial center, making it an attractive area for drug money laundering. The well-developed infrastructure that consists of commercial enterprises, transportation networks, and international financial institutions within the area enhances its appeal to legitimate businesspeople as well as to DTOs, criminal groups, and other drug traffickers who are attempting to launder the significant profits that they generate through their illicit activities.

Drug traffickers in and outside Dallas/Fort Worth routinely use the area as a staging location for bulk quantities of cash and monetary instruments that they generate through their illicit activities. Traffickers based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area typically consolidate drug proceeds generated from the distribution of illicit drugs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and many other drug markets--including New York City; Chicago; Little Rock, Arkansas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Cedar Falls, Iowa; Wichita, Kansas; and Kansas City, Missouri--at the same stash locations they use for drugs prior to smuggling the proceeds in bulk to Mexico for eventual laundering or repatriation.

Drug traffickers in Dallas/Fort Worth commonly launder drug proceeds through front and shell companies, electronic wire transfers, and structured bank deposits; they also purchase luxury vehicles, jewelry, and residential properties. Law enforcement reporting indicates that some traffickers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area use drug proceeds to purchase properties that they then quickly resell for cash and, potentially, a substantial profit. According to Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) officials, property "flips" typically involve fraudulent appraisals, falsified loan documents, and inflated buyers' incomes. Law enforcement reporting also indicates that an increasing number of Mexican criminal groups are involved in house flipping and mortgage fraud, some of the proceeds of which are laundered through businesses such as night clubs. Some Mexican criminals involved in house flipping scams and mortgage fraud have direct connections to Mexican DTOs. Some money launderers, under the direction of a major DTO, use illicit drug proceeds to buy houses to rent; they collect the monthly rental payments and forward them to the trafficking organization in Mexico.

Drug traffickers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are also using stored value cards to launder illicit drug proceeds. Legitimate and criminal users of these virtual money cards store funds on the cards in amounts not exceeding the dollar limit set by the issuing authority; however, a complicit issuing authority can waive the dollar limit, making these cards attractive to money launderers. Stored value cards can be accessed through the Internet, and no names are associated with the cards, thereby providing a degree of anonymity. The owner of a card can authorize another individual to use the card to withdraw funds without requiring any type of identification at the time of the transaction.


14. The school year for schools in Dallas County, including those in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), extends from August 1 through July 31.

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