Crime in America.Net staff.
There are approximately 20 indicators of criminal activity involving national data and virtually all point to declining crime. Per a reader’s request, we created a series on what categories are running contrary to this trend. These include; arrests and incarceration are up for women offenders, incarceration is up slightly (although leveling off and declining in some states) there is one survey (out of several) indicating increased fear of crime and computer crime and teen use of drugs is up.
The data below tells us that the availability of illicit drugs in the United States is increasing. It’s astounding that we have an army of 900,000 gang members fostering the illegal drug trade in the United States. It’s even more astounding that we have tens of millions of drug users. It boggles the mind that we can have this level of crime in America while enjoying record lows as to national criminal statistics.
Although drug use remained relatively stable from 2007 through 2008, more than 25 million individuals 12 years or age and older reported using an illicit drug or using a controlled prescription drug (CPD) nonmedically in 2008.
The environmental impact that results from the production of illicit drugs, are estimated at nearly $215 billion annually.
In 2009, midlevel and retail drug distribution in the United States was dominated by more than 900,000 criminally active gang members representing approximately 20,000 street gangs in more than 2,500 cities.
National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) analysts estimate that the overall threat posed by illicit drugs will not diminish in the near term.
U.S. Department of Justice
National Drug Intelligence Center
National Drug Threat Assessment 2010
Overall, the availability of illicit drugs in the United States is increasing.1 In fact, in 2009 the prevalence of four of the five major drugs–heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine)–was widespread and increasing in some areas. Conversely, cocaine shortages first identified in 2007 persisted in many markets. Significant trends include:
- Increased heroin availability evidenced by higher purity, lower prices, and elevated numbers of heroin-related overdoses and overdose deaths is partly attributable to increased production in Mexico from 17 pure metric tons in 2007 to 38 pure metric tons in 2008, according to U.S. Government estimates.
- Despite recent government of Mexico (GOM) efforts to prohibit the importation of methamphetamine precursor chemicals, methamphetamine availability increased as the result of higher production in Mexico using alternative, less-efficient precursors. Sustained domestic production also contributed to the increased availability levels.
- Marijuana production increased in Mexico, resulting in increased flow of the drug across the Southwest Border, including through the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Arizona.
- Asian drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) are responsible for the resurgence in MDMA availability in the United States, particularly since 2005. These groups produce the drug in Canada and smuggle it across the Northern Border into the United States.
- Cocaine shortages have persisted in many U.S. drug markets since early 2007, primarily because of decreased cocaine production in Colombia but also because of increased worldwide demand for cocaine, especially in Europe; high cocaine seizure levels that continued through 2009; and enhanced GOM counterdrug efforts. These factors most likely resulted in decreased amounts of cocaine being transported from Colombia to the U.S.-Mexico border for subsequent smuggling into the United States.
Although drug use remained relatively stable from 2007 through 2008, more than 25 million individuals 12 years of age and older reported using an illicit drug or using a controlled prescription drug (CPD) nonmedically in 2008. Each year, drug-related deaths number in the thousands, and treatment admissions and emergency department (ED) visits both exceed a million. These and other consequences of drug abuse, including lost productivity associated with abuse, the impact on the criminal justice system, and the environmental impact that results from the production of illicit drugs, are estimated at nearly $215 billion annually.
Mexican DTOs continue to represent the single greatest drug trafficking threat to the United States. Mexican DTOs, already the predominant wholesale suppliers of illicit drugs in the United States, are gaining even greater strength in eastern drug markets where Colombian DTO strength is diminishing. The extent of Mexican DTO influence over domestic drug trafficking was evidenced in several ways in 2009. For example:
- Mexican DTOs were the only DTOs operating in every region of the country.
- Mexican DTOs increased their cooperation with U.S.-based street and prison gangs to distribute drugs. In many areas, these gangs were using their alliances with Mexican DTOs to facilitate an expansion of their midlevel and retail drug distribution operations into more rural and suburban areas.
- In 2009, midlevel and retail drug distribution in the United States was dominated by more than 900,000 criminally active gang members representing approximately 20,000 street gangs in more than 2,500 cities.
- Mexican DTOs increased the flow of several drugs (heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana) into the United States, primarily because they increased production of those drugs in Mexico.
- Drugs smuggled into the United States by Mexican DTOs usually are transported in private or commercial vehicles; however, Mexican DTOs also use cross-border tunnels, subterranean passageways, and low-flying small or ultralight aircraft to move drugs from Mexico into the United States.
- Mexican DTOs smuggled bulk cash drug proceeds totaling tens of billions of dollars from the United States through the Southwest Border and into Mexico. Much of the bulk cash (millions each week) was consolidated by the DTOs in several key areas, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and North Carolina, where it was prepared for transport to the U.S.-Mexico border and then smuggled into Mexico.
- According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Mexican DTO members or associates acquire thousands of weapons each year in Arizona, California, and Texas and smuggle them across the border to Mexico.
The threat posed by the diversion and abuse of CPDs, primarily pain relievers, is increasing, evidenced by the sharp rise in the percentage (4.6% in 2007 to 9.8% in 2009) of state and local law enforcement agencies reporting CPDs as the greatest drug threat in their area.
- Increased abuse of CPDs has led to elevated numbers of deaths related to prescription opioids, which increased 98 percent from 2002 to 2006.
- Unscrupulous physicians who operate purported pain clinics in Florida–which until recently did not have a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)–are a significant source of supply for prescription opioids distributed in numerous states.
National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) analysts estimate that the overall threat posed by illicit drugs will not diminish in the near term. Although NDIC believes that sustained shortages of cocaine will persist in some U.S. markets in 2010, the availability of heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana will increase, largely the result of increased production of the drugs in Mexico. The growing strength and organization of criminal gangs, including their alliances with large Mexican DTOs, will make disrupting illicit drug availability and distribution increasingly difficult for law enforcement agencies. The increased enforcement against illegal pain clinics and the growing number of PDMPs will disrupt the supply of CPDs to prescription opioid users in some areas, with the result that some users will seek opioids from other sources and some will switch to heroin.