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National Drug Intelligence Center
Delaware Drug Threat Assessment Update
Cocaine, both powdered and crack, poses the most significant drug threat to Delaware. According to the 1999 and 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), the percentage of Delaware residents who reported having abused cocaine at least once in their lifetime (2.5%) was higher than the percentage nationwide (1.6%). According to data from the Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, powdered cocaine-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities in the state decreased 12 percent from 491 in state fiscal year (SFY) 2000 (July 1 through June 30) to 430 in SFY2001. Crack cocaine-related admissions in the state likewise decreased 12 percent from 974 in SFY2000 to 854 in SFY2001. In the Wilmington metropolitan area, cocaine was a factor in more drug deaths than any other illicit drug. According to Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) mortality data, there were 45 cocaine-related deaths in the Wilmington metropolitan area in 2001. (See text box.) Cocaine was the only drug present in 13 of these deaths.
Cocaine is readily available in Delaware. Three of the five law enforcement respondents to the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) National Drug Threat Survey (NDTS) 2002 in Delaware reported that the availability of powdered cocaine is medium or high in their jurisdictions, while all five respondents reported the availability of crack as high. According to Federal-wide Drug Seizure System (FDSS) data, federal law enforcement officials in Delaware seized 6.8 kilograms of cocaine in 2002. U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) data indicate that the percentage of drug-related federal sentences in Delaware that were cocaine-related (77.3%) was higher than the national percentage (42.5%) in fiscal year (FY) 2001. (See Table 1.) Powdered cocaine sold for $23,000 to $28,000 per kilogram, $800 to $1,200 per ounce, and $30 to $120 per gram in Delaware in the first quarter of FY2003, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Wilmington Resident Office. Crack sold for $800 to $1,200 per ounce, $26 per gram, and $5 to $10 per rock during that period.
African American and Caucasian local independent dealers, Dominican criminal groups, and local street gangs such as Bloods, Latin Kings, and Hilltop Hustlers are the dominant transporters of cocaine into Delaware. These dealers, criminal groups, and street gangs usually transport wholesale and retail quantities of cocaine into Delaware from distribution centers such as Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore and, to a lesser extent, Washington, D.C., primarily via private vehicles. They also transport cocaine into the state using couriers aboard buses and trains. Colombian drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), working in conjunction with Dominican criminal groups, occasionally smuggle cocaine directly to the Port of Wilmington from South America via commercial vessels. Dominican criminal groups then offload the cocaine to tractor-trailers for transport to Baltimore, New York City, and Philadelphia.
Wholesale-level cocaine distribution is extremely limited in Delaware, except in certain areas of Wilmington. Dominican criminal groups control the wholesale- and retail-level distribution of powdered cocaine in Wilmington, while Caucasian local independent dealers are the primary distributors of powdered cocaine elsewhere in the state. Dominican criminal groups, African American local independent dealers, and local street gangs are the primary retail-level distributors of crack cocaine. Most of the crack available in the state is converted from powdered cocaine locally as needed. Powdered cocaine sold at the retail level typically is packaged in small plastic bags, while crack is sold as individual rocks or in plastic vials. Powdered cocaine and crack usually are distributed at open-air markets, private residences, and bars.
Cocaine, particularly crack, is the drug most often associated with violent crime in Delaware. According to the Wilmington Police Department, retail-level crack distributors on the east side of the city often commit violent acts to protect their turf.
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