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Mexican DTOs dominate the wholesale and midlevel distribution of powder cocaine, ice methamphetamine, commercial-grade marijuana, and Mexican heroin in the Gulf Coast HIDTA region. They supply these drugs to African American and Hispanic midlevel and retail-level traffickers in the region, as well as Caucasian traffickers and street gang members. Retail-level drug distribution typically occurs at open-air drug markets, at housing projects, in local clubs, in private residences, and at prearranged meeting sites such as parking lots.

Various traffickers distribute illicit drugs at the midlevel and retail level in the Gulf Coast HIDTA region. African American traffickers distribute powder cocaine, commercial-grade marijuana, methamphetamine and, to a lesser degree, MDMA. Hispanic traffickers distribute powder cocaine, crack cocaine, and commercial-grade marijuana throughout the region and are the primary distributors of ice methamphetamine, particularly in Arkansas. For example, in September 2009, Arkansas law enforcement officers arrested 84 individuals and seized more than 100 pounds of ice methamphetamine from a large-scale distribution ring. These Hispanic traffickers, operating from Batesville, Arkansas, supplied ice methamphetamine that they obtained from Mexico to local distributors as well as distributors in Memphis, Tennessee; Kansas City, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; and Indianapolis, Indiana. Asian criminal groups are the primary distributors of MDMA in the region, particularly in the coastal areas of Alabama and Mississippi. Caucasian traffickers are the principal distributors of CPDs and locally produced methamphetamine. Traffickers and abusers in the region often obtain CPDs from unscrupulous physicians working at pain management clinics, primarily in Texas and Florida. Physicians at these pain management clinics generally write prescriptions for opioid pain killers using false or grossly exaggerated medical conditions.

Street gang members primarily distribute crack cocaine and commercial-grade marijuana in the Gulf Coast HIDTA region. Most street gangs in the region are made up of unorganized and unaffiliated neighborhood gangs, including local Bloods, Crips, and Vice Lords, who emulate the behavior of nationally affiliated gangs despite having no formal connections. However, some highly organized, nationally affiliated African American street gangs, such as Gangster Disciples, distribute illicit drugs in the urban and rural areas of southern Mississippi.

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Drug-Related Crime

Drug-related violent and property crimes often occur within the Gulf Coast HIDTA region as distributors and abusers seek funds to sustain their operations and addictions, respectively. According to NDTS 2010 data, 63 of the 101 law enforcement agency respondents in the region identify crack cocaine as the drug that most contributes to violent crime in their jurisdictions, and 59 identify crack as the drug that most contributes to property crime. Most large cities in the region, such as Huntsville, Alabama; Shreveport, Louisiana; and Jackson, Mississippi, report that crack cocaine is frequently associated with violent crime. The New Orleans metropolitan area continues to experience high rates of both violent crime and property crime. Much of the violent and property crime committed in New Orleans has a drug nexus (to either heroin or crack cocaine), as abusers have turned to crime to fund their addictions. In addition, law enforcement officers in many rural areas report that methamphetamine regularly contributes to property crime as addicts turn to home invasion, robbery, and burglary to obtain money to purchase the drug.

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