U.S. Department of Justice
National Drug Intelligence Center
Gulf Coast HIDTA Drug Market Analysis 2010
Crack cocaine and methamphetamine pose the greatest drug abuse threats to the Gulf Coast HIDTA region because of the highly addictive nature of the drugs. Public health officials report that crack cocaine abuse is stable at high levels in the region but that methamphetamine abuse is rising, particularly among Caucasians in rural areas. Law enforcement officers characterize the abuse of powder cocaine, CPDs, marijuana, and MDMA as high to moderate. Heroin abuse is generally low throughout the region, with the exception of the New Orleans metropolitan area, where abuse is high.
Abuse of chemically infused herbal mixtures aimed at mimicking the effects of marijuana, commonly dubbed "synthetic marijuana" or "legal weed" by its users, is an emerging threat in the Gulf Coast HIDTA region. These products are becoming increasingly popular, particularly among high school students. Sold as herbal incense, products such as K2, Spice, Genie, and Mojo are readily available in head shops and convenience stores throughout the region.d While these herbal mixtures remain legal throughout the Gulf Coast HIDTA region, some state and local legislatures in the region are seeking to make several of the chemical compounds found in these mixtures controlled substances and are trying ban the sale and possession of such compounds. For example, Alabama and Louisiana have introduced legislation making several of the chemical compounds found in these mixtures controlled substances.e Kansas became the first state to enact a law banning the sale, possession, and use of any mixture containing HU-210,f JWH-018, or JWH-073.g In addition, it is a violation of U.S. military law to possess or abuse herbal mixtures.
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Mexican drug traffickers use the Gulf Coast HIDTA as the primary corridor for transporting bulk cash shipments from Atlanta, a regional cash consolidation hub, to the Southwest Border area and Mexico. The Gulf Coast HIDTA Blue Lightning Operations Center (BLOC) reports that nearly $17 million was seized as a result of highway interdiction operations in the region in 2009. Mexican traffickers are also increasingly moving illicit drug proceeds to Mexico through wire transfers and money remitters. Traffickers also launder illicit proceeds through the operation of cash-intensive businesses, structured bank deposits, purchases of real estate and luxury items, and casinos.
Because of the speed of innovation in this area, any list of products is likely
to become quickly outdated.
e. The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics sent a proposal to the state legislators seeking to make several of the chemical compounds found in herbal mixtures illegal and a city ordinance outlawing the sale and possession of chemically infused herbal mixtures was passed in Northern Arkansas.
f. HU-210 is structurally and pharmacologically similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active ingredient of marijuana, and it was synthesized around 1988. HU-210 is a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States.
g. The Kansas law also banned the sale, possession, and use of other chemical compounds, including BZP (N-benzylpiperazine) and TFMPP (1-(3-trifluoromethylphenyl)piperazine), which is often sold as MDMA or promoted as an alternative to MDMA.
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