Thursday, January 17, 2019

Drugs at the border, report of 2016

“Over the past several years, the nation has seen an uptick in the use and abuse of opioids—both prescription substances and non-prescription substances such as heroin. The estimated number of individuals who had used heroin was 914,000 in 2014. Further, about 586,000 individuals (0.2% of the 12 and older population) had a heroin use disorder in 2014. In addition to an increase in heroin use over the past several years, there has been a simultaneous increase in its availability in the United States. This has been fueled by a number of factors, including increased production and trafficking of heroin—principally by Mexican criminal networks.”

“Mexican transnational criminal organizations are the major suppliers and key producers of most illegal drugs smuggled into the United States. They have been increasing their share of the U.S. drug market—particularly with respect to heroin. The United States still receives a large portion of heroin from South America (primarily Colombia) and, to a much lesser extent, Southwest Asia. In order to facilitate the distribution and sale of drugs in the United States, Mexican drug traffickers have formed relationships with U.S. street, prison, and outlaw motorcycle gangs. Although these gangs have historically been involved with retail-level drug distribution, their ties to the Mexican criminal networks have allowed them to become increasingly involved at the wholesale level as well. The bulk of heroin smuggled into the United States transits across the Southwest border. From 2010 to 2015, heroin seizures in this area more than doubled from 1,016 kg to 2,524 kg. This trend mirrors the increase in overall seizures throughout the country. Further, there has been an increase in federal arrests and prosecutions of heroin traffickers. In 2015, for example, the Drug Enforcement Administration made 6,353 heroin-related arrests. In addition, U.S. Sentencing Commission data indicate that from 2011 to 2015, the number of individuals sentenced for heroin trafficking offenses in U.S. District Courts increased by nearly 50%. “

Heroin Trafficking in the United States, by Kristin Finklea, Specialist in Domestic Security, August 23, 2016

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