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The abuse of prescription opioid pain relievers is a significant concern in the Appalachia HIDTA region because of the wide availability and highly addictive nature of the drugs. According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Episode Data Set, the number of treatment admissions for other opiates, tranquilizers, and sedatives (generally, CPDs) in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia exceeded the number of admissions for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines (including methamphetamine), and heroin in 2008 (the latest available data). (See Table A1.) Public health officials report that CPD abuse has resulted in many drug-related deaths in Tennessee and West Virginia, although the number of such deaths is unavailable. The most commonly abused CPDs are alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and oxycodone (OxyContin). Abuse of marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine remained relatively unchanged in 2009 throughout most of the Appalachia HIDTA region. Heroin is abused at low levels throughout the region.

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Illicit Finance

Traffickers use various methods to move and launder illicit drug proceeds in the Appalachia HIDTA region. Bulk cash smuggling is the primary method used by Mexican traffickers to move drug proceeds from the HIDTA region to Mexico. Mexican traffickers often transport bulk cash in private vehicles from locations in Chattanooga, through Nashville and Memphis, and then to cash consolidation areas in Atlanta or Charlotte, North Carolina, for later shipment to the Southwest Border area and Mexico. Some traffickers in HIDTA counties also use money services businesses, cash-intensive businesses, prepaid cards, real estate investments, banks, electronic commerce, trade-based techniques, and informal value transfer systems to launder illicit drug proceeds. Most traffickers in Kentucky hide drug proceeds in bulk and launder drug proceeds through the purchase of luxury items such as jewelry, expensive vehicles, and real estate.

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