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Drugs in the United States: California
Cocaine: Mexican trafficking organizations dominate the wholesale cocaine trade, smuggling from Mexico into the United States. Cocaine is readily available throughout the state with Los Angeles being the nations largest cocaine transshipment and distribution center. Typically, traffickers transport the cocaine to Los Angeles in vehicles with hidden compartments and then offload the cocaine into stash houses. The cocaine is then distributed in the Los Angeles metropolitan area or shipped to other cities across the country.
Heroin: Although Southeast Asian and Colombian heroin are available in Californina, Mexican black tar heroin is the primary type of heroin encountered in the state. In place of the relatively small amounts smuggled across the border, traditionally in packages of less than five pounds, law enforcement authorities are discovering larger shipments. Mexican drug cartels already specializing in cocaine and marijuana trafficking are now expanding into heroin trafficking. The increased availability of high-purity heroin, which can effectively be snorted, has given rise to a new, younger user population. While avoiding the stigma of needle use, this group is ingesting larger quantities of the drug and, according to drug treatment specialists, progressing more quickly toward addiction.
Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine is the primary drug threat in California. Mexican organizations dominate the production of high-quality meth, while a second trafficking group, comprised predominantly of Caucasians, operates small, unsophisticated laboratories. Clandestine laboratory seizures commonly occur in high-density residential neighborhoods, sparsely populated locations and remote desert locations. Over the last year, methamphetamine producers have moved their laboratories to Northern California locales and to Mexico to avoid increased law enforcement pressure.
Club Drugs: MDMA (Ecstasy) is the most popular club drug with teens and young adults in the state. Israeli organizations have maintained their dominance of the wholesale importation and distribution of MDMA, while a few other criminal organizations are involved in the street-level distribution of the drug. Users may take Ecstasy in combination with marijuana, alcohol, GHB, and methamphetamine to lengthen the effects of MDMA, and to counteract the undesired effects of the other drugs. LSD, Ketamine and GHB are also encountered in the rave scene.
Marijuana: Marijuana is the most widely available and abused illicit drug in California. Large quantities of low grade marijuana is smuggled into the state from Mexico. Highly potent Canadian marijuana, known as BC Bud is also transported into the state. Potent domestic marijuana is also cultivated in sophisticated indoor, hydroponic gardens throughout the state. Statewide, cultivation has increased since California voters passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996, removing state legal sanctions for marijuana use to alleviate symptoms of specific medical conditions with a doctors recommendation. Cannabis clubs or cooperatives have established themselves as illegal distributors under the guise of caregivers.
Other Drugs: Vicodin, Ritalin, Rohypnol, Ketamine, and Valium are commonly diverted pharmaceutical narcotics. Many of these narcotics are used by teens and young adults frequenting the club scene. Rohypnol is available without a prescription at pharmacies throughout Mexico. The Los Angeles area, specifically Compton, California, is the primary source for the majority of PCP found in the United States. Consequently, PCP remains readily available.
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. Recent MET deployments in California include Seaside and Monterey, resulting in the disruption or dismantling of several violent gangs distributing crack cocaine. MET arrested 90 subjects and seized seven pounds of methamphetamine, three kilograms of cocaine, one kilogram of cocaine base, and a methamphetamine laboratory.
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