Despite having the reputation as a quiet corn and livestock farming Midwestern state, Iowa is not immune from drug traffickers. Methamphetamine, both the locally produced and that smuggled in from Mexico or the southwest United States, remains the principal drug of concern in the state of Iowa. Cocaine, particularly crack cocaine, is a significant problem in all major cities in the State. Cocaine is chiefly smuggled in from the Southern states and Texas. Iowa also serves as a hub for transshipment for drugs being transported to the North Eastern United States via Interstate 80. Numerous other interstates connect the State with major cities within a few hours' drive and this provides a critical smuggling route for the drug traffickers.
Cocaine is readily available throughout Iowa. Recent law enforcement data indicates that the cocaine abuse has remained steady for the past decade. However, cocaine is widely available in all the major inner cities. It is primary smuggled in via automobile, trucks and campers. US parcel post is another method of transfer. The majority of cocaine comes in from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Florida and Texas. The drug trade is basically controlled by the drug cartels. Once cocaine reaches the state, it is converted into crack cocaine and distributed by street gangs. An associated problem with cocaine trafficking has been a large increase in gang related violence, crime, thefts and prostitution.
Mexican heroin is occasionally available in the state and Government data indicate that its use has in fact been declining over the past decade. The majority of heroin available in the state is smuggled in via automobiles, trucks and campers all with hidden compartments. Despite the increased purity and decreased price, the heroin abuse has stabilized in the state. However, hospital emergencies continue to report a significant number of medically related problems associated with heroin abuse.
Methamphetamine has become a drug of concern in the state and methamphetamine abuse has increased significantly over the past 2 decades. The drug is available in all counties and is abused by all ethnic groups. The major source of methamphetamine is Mexico and Columbia. The drug is smuggled in from the South chiefly in automobiles.
Despite the ban on precursor chemicals, law enforcement continues to encounter clandestine laboratories all over the state however; clandestine laboratories have declined since the Government banned the availability of ephedrine. A major hazard with these unsophisticated laboratories includes environmental pollution and fire hazard. The very lucrative methamphetamine trade ($15-20,000 per pound) has led to the establishment of several violent drug cartels who are not shy of using violence and extortion to expand their drug trade.
There has been a major increase in club drug abuse in the state of Iowa. All types of club drugs including MDMA, GHB, PCP, LSD and ketamine are available at night parties and rave parties. The majority of colleges and universities have a moderate supply of club drugs. The majority of club drugs are smuggled in from New York, Canada, California and Texas. The club drug trade is basically controlled by gangs. Recent seizures indicate the drugs are increasingly being smuggled in via the US parcel post services.
Marijuana is readily available throughout Iowa, usually in combination with cocaine and methamphetamine. Marijuana ranks as the second most commonly abused drug among teenagers. The majority of marijuana is smuggled in from Arizona, Texas, California, New York and Florida. The wholesale drug trade is controlled by the drug cartels. Marijuana is usually smuggled in using automobiles, trucks and campers. Recent drug seizures indicate that a large amount of locally home grown marijuana is cultivated throughout the state. The large farming area has made it difficult to detect the growers. Indoor marijuana plots have been found in most of rural Iowa. Higher purity Marijuana is also frequently smuggled in from Canada.
Pharmaceutical drug abuse continues to rise at an exponential rate. The most commonly abused pharmaceutical drugs include oxycontin, hydrocodone, methadone, diazepam, Lortab and Xanax. Oxycontin continues to be the number one prescription drug abused in the state. These drugs are primarily obtained via prescription forgeries, “doctor shopping”, pharmacy break INS and via the internet. Some of the pharmaceutical drugs are brought into Iowa from Mexico and Southwestern Border cities. Numerous pain management clinics have opened in every major city in the state and pose an enormous threat to the communities. These pain management clinics do injustice to patients by continually prescribing narcotics to addicts. Iowa has also seen an increase in steroid abuse and distribution. Steroids are usually obtained via the Internet and received via postal shipping services.
Associated with drug trafficking is money laundering. Cash-intensive businesses, such as restaurants, bars and nightclubs, shipping industry, casinos and tourism have all at some time been exposed to “drug” money. The legislature has endorsed laws to monitor all financial exchanges and banks are required by law to notify authorities of large transfers of money.
To counteract the drug problem DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams have been established in response to the overwhelming problem of drug-related violent crime in towns and cities across the nation. In addition, DEA Regional Enforcement Teams have been developed to augment existing DEA pision resources by targeting drug organizations operating in the United States where there is a lack of sufficient local drug law enforcement.