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Heroin in the Northeast: A Regional Drug Threat Assessment
August 2003


Most of the heroin available in the region is first smuggled or transported into New York City by couriers on commercial aircraft. The drug also is transported via private vehicles (over the U.S.-Mexico border and then across the United States), by commercial maritime vessels, and via package delivery services. From New York, heroin is transported via private and public vehicles (buses, trains, limousines, and taxicabs), commercial aircraft, and package delivery services throughout the Northeast and to other regions of the country.


South American Heroin

Colombian drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and criminal groups control the transportation of South American heroin into New York City and ultimately the northeastern United States. However, they increasingly rely on Dominican DTOs and criminal groups and occasionally Mexican criminal groups to transport South American heroin into the city. South American heroin typically is smuggled directly into New York via couriers aboard commercial aircraft from Colombia or overland through the Mexico-Central America corridor and, occasionally, via maritime vessels. Some couriers smuggle heroin into the Miami International Airport and other locations and then take flights to New York City. However, some of the heroin that arrives by aircraft in Miami is transported into New York City via private and commercial vehicles. Heroin also is transported into the city and other areas of the Northeast using package delivery services.


Southeast Asian Heroin

U.S.- and Canada-based Chinese criminal groups typically control maritime shipments of Southeast Asian heroin to the United States and Canada. Shipments usually are smuggled via containerized cargo and destined for major ports of entry (POEs) on the West Coast of North America, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver. Much of the heroin arriving at U.S. POEs is transshipped to drug markets in the Northeast. An unknown percentage of the heroin smuggled into Canada is transported to markets in the northeastern United States, typically via the Buffalo, Blaine, and Detroit POEs. Nigerian criminal groups also smuggle Southeast Asian heroin into the United States for distribution in Northeast markets, primarily via couriers on commercial aircraft.


Southwest Asian Heroin

Southwest Asian, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian criminal groups, particularly those of Afghan, Pakistani, Indian, Lebanese, and Turkish descent, transport most of the Southwest Asian heroin smuggled into the country, including New York and other areas in the Northeast. They primarily use couriers ("swallowers") on commercial aircraft. Package delivery services also are used. 


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