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drugs in New York

Drugs in the United States: New York

State Facts
Population: 18,976,457
Law Enforcement Officers: 80,337
State Prison Population: 68,232
Probation Population: 183,686
Violent Crime Rate National Ranking: 11
2001 Federal Drug Seizures
Cocaine: 3,861.0 kgs.
Heroin: 801.5 kgs.
Methamphetamine: 12.3 kgs.
Marijuana: 2,658.0 kgs.
Clandestine Laboratories: 8 (DEA, state, and local)

New York City is one of the most significant drug destinations and distribution centers in the United States. Heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, and MDMA have the most significant impact on New York. Other club drugs and marijuana are also widely available. In the last six months, methamphetamine-related incidents have increased, however, methamphetamine trafficking and abuse has a lesser impact on New York than the previously mentioned illegal drugs. New York based traffickers supply the northeastern United States, usually as far west as Chicago, as far south as Baltimore, and as far north as the Canadian border. A growing number of drug traffickers are increasing their sophistication, using the Internet and advanced communication devices, and engaging in electronic countersurveillance.

Cocaine: Colombia-based distributors continue to supply New York’s top cocaine rings, dominated by Dominican violators. These traffickers regularly smuggle in multi-hundred kilogram shipments of cocaine to New York and then distribute it in smaller amounts through many networks in the metropolitan area. Most of the cocaine entering New York is smuggled in by vehicles from large distribution centers in border areas (Texas, Arizona, California, and Florida). Mexican violators have become prominent in this large scale cocaine transportation, and are becoming increasingly prominent in distribution. Large quantities continue to be delivered to and distributed in New York, as evidenced by the May 2002 seizure of 1,946 kilograms in Brooklyn. Cocaine is distributed at the retail level via street sales and sales in businesses such as bars and small grocery stores. Retail level cocaine organizations that deliver to homes and offices via car service are becoming more prominent in New York City. Cocaine is also a significant problem in upstate and western New York. Most cocaine distributors in these areas have connections to sources in New York City. Crack cocaine, while much less of a problem than in the late 1980s and early 1990s, continues to be available in economically depressed areas in all major New York cities.

Heroin: South American heroin is by far the most common type of heroin available in New York. Much of the South American heroin is brought into the New York area by couriers on commercial aircraft. At the retail level in New York City, heroin, irrespective of its origin, is sold in small glassine bags known as “dime” bags, due to their cost of $10. Dime bags are most frequently sold in “bundles” of ten for $100. The bags are generally ink stamped with logos referred to as “brand names.” Most heroin available in upstate and western New York is transported via auto, bus, or train from New York City.

newyork methamphetamine arrests Methamphetamine: Meth trafficking and abuse is a limited but growing problem in New York. Availability and abuse are minimal as compared to heroin, cocaine and MDMA, as evidenced by Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) emergency room mentions. Most of New York City’s meth supply is from the west coast via couriers who fly to the west coast, pick up one-half pound to a kilogram of meth and then return to the New York area. Meth abuse is encountered in limited areas of the population such as the gay community, nightclub patrons, economically depressed rural neighborhoods, and motorcycle gangs.Motorcycle gangs are particularly active in meth abuse in upstate areas. As with trafficking and abuse, meth laboratory activity is minimal but increasing in New York. Although large-scale local labs are seldom encountered, there is an increase in tabletop labs producing an ounce or more per cook. Most meth labs are found along the New York/Pennsylvania border where anhydrous ammonia is stolen in order to produce small quantities via the Nazi method. Middle Eastern violators have figured prominently in the illegal diversion of pseudoephedrine for meth manufacture. Middle Eastern pseudoephedrine traffickers based in New York import pseudoephedrine from Canada and transship it to California for use in meth labs.

Club Drugs: MDMA (Ecstasy) is readily available throughout New York and remains the drug of choice at nightclubs, rave parties, and college campuses. New York has had exponential increases in the importation, trafficking, and abuse of MDMA. Belgium and the Netherlands are the main source locations, with significant transshipment through Canada. Currently, organized crime groups, many controlled by Israeli traffickers, dominate the importation and distribution of MDMA in New York. They differ somewhat from more traditionally structured organized criminal groups and exist as loose confederations rather than organizations with a rigid hierarchical structure. Within New York, wholesale quantity transactions typically occur in residences, and, at the retail level, the drug is sold to users at nightclubs or raves. Almost all MDMA pills are sold with logos stamped in, creating brands for users to seek out. Many of those brands are specifically designed to appeal to teenagers.

Marijuana: Most of the marijuana entering the New York City area, and some upstate regions, arrives via airfreight or auto/truck transport from Florida, Canada, or the southwestern United States. Traffickers also smuggle marijuana via commercial airline, and overnight package services. A large percentage of marijuana trafficking within the New York City area continues to be dominated by individuals with past or present Traditional Organized Crime associations. These violators perceive marijuana trafficking as a steady high-profit undertaking with less risk than heroin, cocaine, or crack. Hashish abuse is minimal in the New York area, but New York has served as a transit location for hashish in the past.

Other Drugs: Besides MDMA, Ketamine, PCP, LSD, ATM, GHB, GBL, Rohypnol, and steroids are available in New York as well as the occasional analogue. They are usually found at clubs, raves, colleges, high schools, and parties. Synthetic drugs usually have the most connections to computer web sites. Mexico, California, and Canada are the most frequent source areas. Oxycontin abuse is encountered, but not widespread.

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 17 MET deployments in New York since the inception of the program: Niagara Falls, Southampton, Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Amsterdam, Utica, Monticello, Watertown, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Mt. Vernon, Liberty, Hempstead, Spring Valley, and Fallsburg. These deployments resulted in 612 arrests and the seizure of 14.6 pounds of cocaine; 15.7 pounds of crack cocaine; 3.1 pounds of heroin; 14.3 pounds of marijuana; and 500 pills of Ecstasy. Also seized were 53 weapons, 18 vehicles, and over $221,000 in U.S. currency and property.

Special Topics: New York City’s status as an international financial center provides the means and opportunity for extensive money laundering operations. Laundering money in and through New York ranges from storefront businesses engaging in frequent, small, multi-hundred dollar wire transfers overseas to large, international organizations that pick up hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time to be laundered. Recent legislation forcing financial institutions to adhere to the Know Your Customer policies, and holding them accountable for the illicit activities of their clients, have caused banks to be vigilant in screening potential clients. This vigilance and reluctance by the banks to accept funds from questionable clients has forced many drug trafficking and money laundering organizations to resort to the physical smuggling of cash out of the New York area.

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New York Drug Report Data Source: US Department of Justice, DEA