The National Drug Threat Assessment 2010 report provides policymakers, law enforcement executives, resource planners, and counterdrug program coordinators with strategic intelligence regarding the threat posed to the United States by the trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs.
The assessment highlights strategic trends in the production, transportation, distribution, and abuse of illegal and controlled prescription drugs. It also presents strategic intelligence regarding the operational trends and tendencies of drug trafficking organizations and street gangs that distribute illegal drugs and highlight drug trafficking trends along the Southwest Border.
Marijuana is widely available, in part as a result of rising production in Mexico. The amount of marijuana produced in Mexico has increased an estimated 59 percent overall since 2003. Contributing to the increased production in Mexico is a decrease in cannabis eradication , which has resulted in significantly more marijuana being smuggled into the United States from Mexico, as evidenced by a sharp rise in border seizures.
Mexican DTOs have expanded their cultivation operations into the United States, an ongoing trend for the past decade. Nonetheless, cultivation operations in some areas of the country have been hindered by intensified eradication efforts. In addition, law enforcement pressure may be limiting the amount produced domestically bysome DTOs, resulting in heightened smuggling from Mexico.
Mexican traffickers are expanding and shifting outdoor cultivation operations eastward across the United States into areas that they believe are less subject to law enforcement scrutiny.
These Mexican DTOs have established cultivation operations in areas outside their traditional strongholds of California, Washington, and Oregon. Since 1999, law enforcement reporting has noted this eastward shift and expansion from these western states to Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, North Carolina, Tennessee and, most recently, Wisconsin and Michigan.
These groups appear to be moving to these areas in response to improved outdoor grow site detection capabilities and heightened eradication efforts.
Asian traffickers are operating an increasing number of indoor grow sites. Some U.S.-based and Canada-based Asian groups (primarily ethnic Vietnamese and Chinese) engage in large-scale indoor cultivation, operating multithousand plant sites, predominantly in the Pacific Northwest and throughout much of California.
Within the past decade, these tight-knit and often family-oriented groups have expanded their network throughout the country to numerous states, including Texas and several New England states, to avoid law enforcement detection and to gain better access to drug markets.
Cuban traffickers are the primary operators of indoor marijuana grow sites in the Southeast Region. Cuban-operated indoor sites are of a smaller scale than Asian-operated grows. Cannabis cultivation sites operated by Cuban traffickers are most prevalent in southern Florida, but such activity has expanded northward into northern Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina to move operations closer to potential drug markets.
Cuban immigrants are often exploited by DTOs and criminal groups to cultivate high-potency cannabis at these indoor sites, and the problem appears to be growing. Law enforcement reporting and eradication data indicate an increase in the seizure of indoor cannabis grow operations that cultivate high-potency marijuana, and the number of indoor grow sites seized in Florida rose each year between 2004 (246 sites) and 2008 (1,022 sites).
The amount of marijuana produced domestically is increasing .16 However, eradication data and law enforcement reporting indicate that the amount of marijuana produced in the United States appears to be very high, based in part on the continual increases in the number of plants eradicated nationally .
In fact, eradication of plants from both indoor and outdoor sites has more than doubled since 2004. Well-organized criminal groups and DTOs that produce domestic marijuana do so because of the high profitability of and demand for marijuana in the United States.
These groups have realized the benefits of producing large quantities of marijuana in the United States, including having direct access to a large customer base, avoiding the risk of detection and seizure during transportation across the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders, and increasing profits by reducing transportation costs.
Marijuana is produced in the United States by various DTOs and criminal groups, including Caucasian, Asian, and Mexican groups, but Caucasian independents and criminal groups are well established in every region of the country and very likely produce the most marijuana domestically overall.17 Mexican, Asian, and Cuban criminal groups and DTOs, in particular, pose an increasing threat in regard to domestic cultivation, since their cultivation activities often involve illegal immigrants and large-scale growing operations ranging from 100 to more than 1,000 plants per site. In addition, these groups appear to be expanding and shifting operations within the United States.
Thu Jun 17 2010
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