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Drugs in the United States: Florida
Cocaine: Cocaine is readily available in multi-kilogram amounts throughout Florida and is the primary drug of concern. South American trafficking organizations dominate the importation and distribution of cocaine in Florida. Smuggling via the use of go-fast vessels, primarily from The Bahamas, remains the biggest trafficking threat. The Caribbean serves as a major transit zone for cocaine from Central and South America into Florida, and The Bahamas continues to be a gateway for the importation of cocaine and other drugs. Cocaine HC1 is preferred throughout most of Florida, but in many areas it is converted to crack cocaine for sale at the retail level. Crack cocaine and its association with violent crime continues to be a major problem in Florida. Crack cocaine is available throughout Florida and remains a drug of choice for many in the lower socio-economic areas of the state.
Heroin: MIA is a major gateway for South American heroin distribution throughout the northeast U.S. Heroin is readily available throughout Florida, with the highest concentrations in the central and southern parts of the state. From CY 1998 through CY 2001, Florida was second in heroin seizures nationwide (in CY 1997 Florida was first). The primary method in which South American heroin is smuggled is through the use of couriers, who ingest the heroin in quantities up to 1 kilogram.
Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine is the primary drug of concern in Central Florida. Methamphetamine is transported into Florida, in multi-pound increments, by drug trafficking organizations based in California and Texas. Aside from these organizations, clandestine methamphetamine lab seizures have taken an explosive upturn in Florida. For CY 2002, through June 30th, there have been 66 labs seized, compared to 33 labs seized for all of CY 2001. These clandestine labs tend to be small operations, but taken as a whole they represent a growing danger. The labs in Florida tend to be small, quick cook labs, which produce an average of between 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of methamphetamine per batch.
Club Drugs: MDMA is the most readily available dangerous drug throughout Florida. LSD remains available, however seizures are rare. GHB is also readily available in Florida, especially in and around colleges and universities. MDMA is found at rave parties in all parts of Florida and is frequently used in conjunction with other illegal and/or prescription drugs. GHB is commonly abused in Florida, as well as two precursors - GBL and Butanediol (BD).
Marijuana: Marijuana, both domestically grown and imported, is readily available throughout Florida. Both varieties are widely abused by people of all socio-economic classes. A 2001 Florida Youth Survey on Substance Abuse reported a 70% increase in marijuana use among 7th graders and a 38% increase in use among 6th graders, as compared with 2000. Domestic indoor cultivation is a significant industry throughout Florida. The availability of plant hot houses and large commercial nurseries allow traffickers ready access to the necessary equipment for indoor grow operations. Marijuana from high-tech domestic indoor grow operations is available for those who can afford to purchase it. The Panhandle region continues to be a transit area for marijuana from Mexico. Seizures continue along Interstate-10 from trucks, rental vehicles and trailers traveling east into Florida. Mexican commercial grade marijuana also continues to be brought into Florida from the Southwest Border.
Special Topics: Pharmaceutical drugs remain widely available throughout Florida, especially OxyContin. Throughout CY 2001, the abuse of Oxycontin escalated throughout Florida. Medical examiners throughout the state reported significant increases in deaths involving the use of oxycodone and/or hydrocodone. Money Laundering: The use of shell banks and wire transfers continues to be an especially popular method of laundering money and evading tax payments. Drug proceeds are electronically moved from place to place or layered to obscure the origin of the funds, and the currency is then reintroduced as clean for trafficker use. Bulk currency shipments remain a common method of laundering narcotics proceeds from the United States back to source countries. Large quantities of U.S. currency are still being concealed in assorted forms of outbound cargo being shipped to Colombia. On average, currency amounts range from $10,000 to $1 million and are often delivered to businesses for shipment in legitimate exported cargo. The amount of cargo processed and exported from South Florida is so voluminous that sporadic inspection of outbound containers remains a difficult and cumbersome task.
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. In Florida, as of June 30, 2002, there have been 24 deployments completed resulting in 648 arrests of violent drug criminals.
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