Nevada night life and entertainment has also brought in opportunities for drug traffickers. Almost all illicit drugs are available in Nevada, but methamphetamine is the most commonly abused. In addition, cocaine, marijuana, heroin and club drugs are also fast catching on. The geographical location of Nevada close to California and its long porous borders have made it an ideal place for drug traffickers; Nevada does serve as a major hub of transshipment of drugs across the United States.
Cocaine is available throughout the state. The bulk of cocaine is smuggled in from California using automobiles, trucks and campers. Once brought into Las Vegas, the cocaine is re packaged and distributed throughout the state by the local cartels. Most of the powder cocaine is converted to crack cocaine which is easier to use. Most of the street gangs operate out of the numerous motels located all over the state. The crack cocaine problem has also been associated with money laundering, homicides, prostitution and inner city impoverishment.
Mexican black tar heroin is the predominant type available in Nevada. With the recent increase in the Hispanic migrant population, there also has been a significant increase in Mexican heroin. It is believed that the drug cartels involve the poor migrant workers to help distribute the product throughout the state. The bulk of the heroin is smuggled into the state from Mexico in automobiles and trucks. With the recent arrival of Asian immigrants, the Asian variety of heroin is now also available in the state.
Like most states, methamphetamine is the most frequent drug of abuse. It is widely available throughout the state. Locally produced methamphetamine is made in clandestine laboratories. Recently large super laboratories have been identified in the state. The majority of these clandestine laboratories are run by the Mexicans. However, because of the state ban on the availability of chemicals, the locally made meth labs are far and few. Laboratories seized recently revealed large scale methamphetamine production using pseudoephedrine, red phosphorus, and iodine.
The majority of methamphetamine is smuggled in from California and the South. Organized Mexican poly-drug trafficking groups monopolize the large-scale meth trade in Nevada. Mexican produced crystal methamphetamine is the most readily available in Nevada and purity levels range from 50-90%.
The night life and nocturnal entertainment has led to a sharp increase in the use of club drugs in the State. Club drugs, specifically MDMA, GHB, and LSD, are trafficked and abused in local nightclubs, adult entertainment clubs, and at raves. The trafficking of these drugs ranges from local sales within clubs or raves to larger sales between locals and the drug cartels.
Las Vegas serves as a point of importation and a transshipment area for MDMA. Most MDMA that passes through or is destined for Las Vegas continues to come primarily from southern California and New York. Law enforcement seizures reveal that Asian drug trafficking organizations are responsible for a significant amount of MDMA distribution throughout Nevada.
Both locally grown and Mexican smuggled marijuana is readily available in Nevada. Mexican drug trafficking organizations control most of the marijuana trade. The marijuana is brought in from California in automobiles, vans and trucks within hidden compartments. Locally grown marijuana is widely available because of the large area of forest land, marijuana is easily grown and hidden from the authorities.
Current investigations indicate that prescription drug abuse of such drugs as OxyContin, valium, xanax, methadone, codeine, Fentanyl and Lortab continue to be a problem in Nevada. Primary methods of obtaining these drugs are from illegal sale and distribution by pharmacists, physicians, doctor shopping, forged prescription, pharmacy thefts and via the internet. Pseudoephedrine sales are reported down since a new law banned the addition of pseudoephedrine to cough mixtures.
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. The law enforcement agencies have been identifying areas of high trafficking in Nevada and have been successful at combating the influx of drug trafficking in southern Nevada. In order to alleviate the meth problem this task force also regulates and monitors domestic trafficking organizations and career criminal enterprises which are involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine and the transport and distribution of meth and precursor chemicals within and through the state.
Over the past decade, Nevada has reversed its approach to marijuana offenses. In 1996 and 1998, voters approved an initiative legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana. In June of 2000, legislation recommended reducing penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use from a felony to a misdemeanor. In November of 2000, voters approved the medical marijuana initiative a second time (under Nevada law, initiatives have to be approved twice before they can take effect). In 2001, the legislature passed legislation implementing the medical marijuana initiative and decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use.