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Drugs in the United States: Arizona
Cocaine: Historically, Arizona has been a transshipment area for cocaine that is distributed (via passenger vehicles and tractor-trailers) to destinations throughout the United States. Crack cocaine: Throughout the metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson, crack cocaine remains popular and easily attainable. It is distributed in areas where street gangs control the market.
Heroin: Both Mexican black tar heroin and brown powder heroin are consistently encountered in Arizona. Multi-kilogram quantities of heroin have been seized at the Ports of Entry and in major metropolitan areas. Heroin is easily concealed in vehicles and body-carried across the border.
Methamphetamine: Throughout Arizona, methamphetamine is readily available in both crude brownish powder Mexican methamphetamine and the more pure ice or glass methamphetamine. Crystal or glass meth, 99% pure, is becoming more popular and available in Arizona. Methamphetamine is the drug of choice with poor working class whites and Hispanics. Arizona law enforcements precursor chemical initiatives have resulted in a reduction in the number of clandestine laboratories seized.
Club Drugs: Club drugs remain readily available in Arizona. The most frequently abused of these club drugs are Ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, Ketamine, nitrous oxide, and GHB. Ecstasy, the most popular of the club drugs, has become an acceptable drug of choice among recreational drug users, to include college-aged and younger users.
Marijuana: Marijuana remains readily available and is considered the most widely used illegal drug throughout the State of Arizona. Transportation of marijuana from Mexico continued to occur most often by backpackers and vehicles (passenger/truck). Large quantities of marijuana are routinely seized at the Ports of Entry, as well as remote sites along the border of Mexico. Most of the abandoned loads, in quantities in excess of 150 pounds, are found in a variety of locations and cannot be attributed to a specific group of traffickers.
Marijuana legalization efforts: In 1996, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, which permits a physician, with the concurrence of a second physician, to prescribe marijuana, heroin, LSD, and all other Schedule I drugs. In 1997, Proposition 200 was overruled by the Arizona State Legislature. In 1998 Proposition 200 was reintroduced under the name The People Have Spoken. This initiative successfully passed, thus creating the current law. In 2000, a second attempt to pass the initiative did not make it to the November 7th ballot due to legal technicalities. In February 2002 a Medical Marijuana initiative was filed with the State of Arizona for consideration in the November general election. This initiative, titled The People Have Spoken, creates a Medical Marijuana registry card system that would be managed by The Arizona Department of Public Safety. This card would be issued to individuals diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition. This initiative increases the maximum sentence for drug offenders committing a violent crime while under the influence of drugs and decriminalizes simple possession of marijuana less than one ounce to a civil fine. It also requires a drug-related conviction before any forfeiture of property could be seized relating to the possession or use of drugs. In addition, the initiative changes the wording of prescribe to recommend by a doctor.
Other Drugs: Prescription controlled drugs continue to be smuggled from Mexico into Arizona on a regular basis. Hydrocodonel, oxycodone, and benzodiazepene products continue to comprise the majority of prescription controlled drugs abused in Arizona. Arizona has begun to see organized groups utilizing computer-generated prescriptions to obtain Oxycontin for both personal abuse and distribution for profit.
DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams: This cooperative program with state and local law enforcement counterparts was conceived in 1995 in response to the overwhelming problem of drug-related violent crime in towns and cities across the nation. There have been 359 deployments completed resulting in over 14,456 arrests of violent drug criminals as of April 1, 2002. There have been 12 METdeployments in Arizona since the inception of the program: Eloy/Pinal, Bullhead City, Prescott, Lake Havasu City, Sierra Vista, Apache County, Coconino County, Navajo County, Payson, Show Low, Glendale, and Tombstone. These deployments resulted in 509 arrests and the seizure of 32.8 pounds of cocaine, 1.3 pounds of crack cocaine, 1,387 pounds of marijuana, .5 pounds of heroin, 500 units of LSD, 59.8 pounds of methamphetamine, and 13 clandestine methamphetamine labs. Also seized were 126 weapons, 60 vehicles, and over $225,000 in U.S. currency and property.
Special Topics: This year the Phoenix Metro Intelligence Strategic and Tactical Investigative Center (MISTIC), a multi-agency enforcement and intelligence center opened in Phoenix. The Center houses several agencies: DEA, Phoenix Police Department, FBI-JDIG (Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Drug Intelligence Group), and Maricopa County/DEA Clan Lab Group. The mission of the MISTIC Center is to apply enhanced intelligence processes and greater operational coordination to identify drug trafficking organizations (D.T.O.s). Phoenix Group #1, Southwest Border Initiative (SWBI) is co-located with Phoenix Police Departments Drug Task Force at the MISTIC Center. They develop and pursue Title III investigations targeting Mexican D.T.O.s.
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