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Drugs in the United States: Louisiana
Cocaine: Cocaine is widely used and trafficked throughout Louisiana. Cocaine, in both powder-form (HCl) and base-form crack, is the foremost concern of law enforcement authorities because of its impact on the community in terms of its direct correlation to incidents of violent crime and homicide. Houston and Miami are the primary source cities for cocaine HCl and crack cocaine. Both cocaine HCl and crack are sold in open-air markets in numerous communities. In at least one case, a former crack cocaine-distributing organization switched to marijuana distribution, avoiding the higher prison sentences for the distribution of crack cocaine.
Heroin: Altogether, heroin distribution and abuse is not a significant threat in Louisiana, with the exception of the greater New Orleans area. Most heroin entering Louisiana is in transit from Texas and California to either the Midwest or Northeast U.S. Heroin distribution and abuse in New Orleans has reached an all time high, advancing the city into a regional distribution center. Heroin available in the New Orleans area is of South American origin with purity levels as high as 45 percent. When cut with mannitol, the color is off-white, however, street distributors also use brown sugar to cut their product, resulting in a slightly darker color.
Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine is now competing with marijuana as the drug of choice. Meth is readily available throughout Louisiana. Locally manufactured meth is usually produced in smaller ounce quantities via the Nazi and Red Phosphorous methods while larger, multi-pound quantities are transported into the area concealed in private and commercial vehicles and by air from California and Texas. The number of clandestine laboratory seizures state-wide has increased significantly. Meth labs are found principally in isolated, rural communities. Chemicals not available at retails stores, such as anhydrous ammonia, are stolen from fixed tanks throughout Louisiana and transported in thermos containers or propane tanks. Notably, factories in Louisiana produce over 2/3 of all of the anhydrous ammonia (a key component in the Nazi production method) that is used in the mid-west.
Club Drugs: Club Drug abuse and distribution among young people is on the rise in Louisiana. Prior to the raid of the State Palace Theatre, New Orleans was the primary Louisiana city with a significant rave scene. Baton Rouge is now the city with the significant rave scene. The university crowd is very involved in the distribution and abuse of club drugs. A surplus supply of MDMA is present at the raves which is sold and afterwards often fronted at after parties and distributed to lower level retail distributors for distribution in their respective cities. MDMA, LSD, GHB, and Ketamine are also available throughout the state. GHB and MDMA have emerged as the drugs of choice and the end-users are young Caucasians at all economic levels. MDMA from sources in California, Texas and Florida is distributed to college aged youths. Counterfeit pills are also sold to young adults as MDMA and have become an extremely lucrative business in Shreveport nightclubs. Vietnamese trafficking groups are now playing a significant role in the influx of MDMA into the New Orleans area.
Marijuana: Marijuana use in Louisiana is on the increase, especially among youth ranging from ages 18-20. During the 1960s and 1970s, trends in marijuana use showed an upward surge and then in the 1980s a decline. What is now being called the new marijuana epidemic is being seen across Louisiana today. While cost and availability is a possible factor, there is a belief among those buying and selling that there is a small chance of being caught by law enforcement.
Other Drugs: The illegal diversion, distribution and abuse of oxycodone products, particularly OxyContin, has become a significant threat, especially in Louisianas southeast parishes. Oxycontin is being abused at a rate many law enforcement officials describe as epidemic. The problem is due in part to physicians who write prescriptions for the drug without performing proper screening and examinations. Louisiana pharmacies have also seen an increase in the number of burglaries and robberies as abusers and distributors seek to obtain this and other prescription drugs.
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 348 deployments completed resulting in 14,794 arrests of violent drug criminals as of June 2002. There have been 10 MET deployments in Louisiana since the inception of the program: Donaldsonville; Concordia Parish; New Orleans; Hammond; Slidell; Shreveport; Bogalusa; Houma and two deployments in Alexandria. These deployments resulted in 210 arrests and the seizure of 1.8 pounds of cocaine; 8.3 pounds of crack cocaine; 1 pound of marijuana; 1 ounce of methamphetamine and one clandestine methamphetamine lab (Bogalusa). Also seized were 3 vehicles, 14 weapons and over $43,000 in U.S. currency and property.
Special Topics: On December 6, 2001, the ONDCP named the Gulf Coast HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) the Outstanding HIDTA of the Nation for 2001.
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