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Drugs in the United States: Pennsylvania
Cocaine: Cocaine HCl, as well as crack cocaine, remains widely available in Pennsylvania. In some of these areas, particularly in northeastern Pennsylvania, availability of cocaine remains a greater concern compared to other drugs. For example, Philadelphia has a more serious problem with heroin usage as opposed to cocaine. New York City remains the primary source for cocaine distributed in Pennsylvania. Of particular concern is a European maritime shipping company, which has begun transporting cargo from South America directly into Philadelphia. As a result of increased law enforcement presence in Philadelphia, Dominican distribution organizations may be moving operations to nearby Wilmington, Delaware. Crack cocaine use continues to infiltrate a variety of neighborhoods in both urban and rural areas of the state, crossing both economic and ethnic lines.
Heroin: Heroin remains widely available throughout Pennsylvania. Well-organized and violent Hispanic groups, including Colombian, Dominican, and Puerto Rican organizations, dominate the heroin market in the state. While the primary sources are based in New York City, heroin is also smuggled directly into Philadelphia from Colombia via transshipment points including Aruba, Mexico, and other Caribbean locations. In western Pennsylvania, heroin availability is reportedly rising due to increased purity and lower prices. In Philadelphia, the Operation Safe Streets initiative, formed to combat heroin distribution and related violence in some of the citys worst neighborhoods, has begun to produce positive results. Intensive law enforcement presence in these areas has resulted in reduced crime and drug trafficking.
Methamphetamine: Historically, meth was reported to be readily available in Pennsylvania, used primarily in the Philadelphia area. Investigations have traditionally indicated that Philadelphia and its surrounding suburban counties are the origin of a large portion of methamphetamine produced and distributed in the Eastern United States. While methamphetamine remains available at the wholesale and retail levels, the overall availability seems to have decreased as a result of the dismantling of several clandestine laboratories. Investigative successes in Philadelphia, Allentown and elsewhere have contributed to this trend. Investigations continue to implicate members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club as being involved in the distribution of methamphetarnine.
Club Drugs: MDMA (Ecstasy) remains readily available in Pennsylvania, primarily at rave parties and nightclubs. Usage among high school and college students continues to be a concern to law enforcement. Reports that MDMA prices have dropped may add to the problem. Gamma hydroxybutric acid (GHB) and ketarnine also remain available in Philadelphia-area nightclubs. Investigations continue to document New York City as a primary source area for retail quantities of MDMA sold in Pennsylvania. Intelligence indicates Ecstasy continues to be smuggled into the Philadelphia area from the Netherlands, through such areas as Canada, New York, and the Caribbean. Israeli and Dutch nationals have been documented as being heavily involved in smuggling and trafficking large amounts of MDMA into the state.
Marijuana: Historically, the forests of northwestern Pennsylvania were considered areas for marijuana cultivation. However, source areas of marijuana distributed in Pennsylvania include the U.S. southwest border area, including McAllen and Houston, Texas, as well as Los Angeles, California. Marijuana remains abundantly available in wholesale and retail quantities in the state. Various means of transport continue to be utilized by traffickers. Due to their proximity to major thoroughfares, areas in the central region of the state, which are homes to several trucking warehouses, remain hubs for marijuana trafficking organizations. At the retail level, Hispanic, African-American, and Caucasian groups, along with some dominant Jamaican organizations, continue to control the marijuana market in Pennsylvania.
Other Drugs: Trafficking and use of OxyContin, the primary diverted pharmaceutical drug of concern, continues to decrease. This is due in part to highly successful prosecutions of physicians and pharmacists in the area which received extensive publicity. Many individuals who had used Oxycontin have returned to using Percocet. Other oxycodone products, such as Percodan, Tylox and Roxicet, continue to be widely diverted and used throughout Pennsylvania. Hydrocone products, such as Vicodin, Lortab and Lorcet, also remain popular. The benzodiazepine, Xanax, remained one of the pharmaceutical drugs of choice in the state.
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 MET deployments in the State of Pennsylvania since the inception of the program: Bristol, Chester City, Clariton, Easton, Norristown, Reading, Allentown, York, Pottstown, Chester, and two in Philadelphia. These deployments resulted in 728 arrests and the seizure of 23 pounds of cocaine, 18.1 pounds of crack cocaine, 7.5 pounds of heroin, 1 ounce of methamphetamine, 17.1 pounds of marijuana, 395 MDMA tablets, and 42 dosage units of OxyContin. Also seized were 48 firearms, 16 vehicles, and over $100,000 in U.S. currency and property.
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