New York City has a historical association with drug trafficking for more than half a decade. The State is home to numerous ethnic groups; it is surrounded by a large coast line, multitude of freeways and serves numerous major cities within a few hours' drive. This places New York as an ideal location for drug trafficking and this opportunity has not missed by many drug cartels
The primary drug traffickers who control the cocaine smuggling and distribution are the Colombian and Mexicans. These traffickers bring in large quantities of cocaine in the State, where it is re packaged and distributed through various networks both across and out of the State. New York is the hub for the majority of cocaine smuggled into the NE corner and also into Canada. The majority of cocaine arrives via the multitude of freeways in automobiles, vans and trucks. At the retail level, the cocaine is distributed by various smaller groups including gangs and other ethnic minorities, who all work for the hierarchical cartels.
Cocaine abuse is a major problem in all cities in the state. The powder cocaine is usually converted to crack cocaine which is available in all of New York. The majority of this crack cocaine is found in the inner ghettoes and associated with gang violence, crime, thefts, murders, inner-city poverty and prostitution.
Heroin is readily available in most cities in New York. The heroin trade has always been under the control of the Colombian and Dominican organizations operating in the New York metropolitan area. The majority of heroin is smuggled in from South American and controlled by the Colombia based traffickers. Much of the heroin is brought in via the interstate from Mexico but a fair amount is smuggled in through the two large New York airports.
Over the last decade, the drug cartels have become sophisticated and have used ingenious methods of bringing the drug into America. Heroin has been found packed in furniture, clothes, microscopes, shoes, toupees, and even animals. The heroin trafficking and heroin abuse problem has increased all over New York.
Methamphetamine for some reason is not as commonly abused in New York as are the other drugs. The majority of methamphetamine is brought into New York from the west coast and the trade is primarily controlled by the drug cartels. In addition, local methamphetamine laboratories have become popular. Despite the ban of ephedrine from cough supplies, these clandestine laboratories still manage to get the chemicals necessary for synthesis of the methamphetamine. Because of the large size of the State and numerous empty isolated factories, methamphetamine factories have been springing up all over the State. However, law enforcement agencies have been quite productive in eradicating these laboratories as soon as they spring up.
New York continues to experience high levels of importation, trafficking, and abuse of MDMA (Ecstasy). The majority of club drugs are smuggled in from Europe and Israel. However, Canada has recently emerged as a significant source for MDMA production. MDMA is also smuggled in from other States using couriers and parcel post services. Because of the large use by college students, the club drug trade is now being controlled by various drug organizations.
Besides MDMA, other club drugs, such as GHB, ketamine, PCP and steroids, while available, are less prominent problems in New York City.
Most of the marijuana entering the New York City is from Mexico. The drug is smuggled in automobiles, trucks, campers and US parcel post service. Law enforcement agencies report a continued increase in the shipment of marijuana from Jamaica, which is transported and distributed by trafficking organizations, in addition, the pure variety of marijuana known as BC Bud, is increasingly being smuggled in from Canada.
With a recent increase in immigrants from Somalia, Khat has become a common substance of abuse. Khat is a plant leaf which is chewed and can produce mild euphoria. Awareness by the law enforcement agencies has led to seizures of tons of the product recently.
Current investigations indicate that abuse of hydrocodone products such as Vicodin, oxycontin, benzodiazepines methadone and xanax continues to be a problem in New York. The major methods of obtaining these drugs are forged prescriptions, pharmacy break-ins, “doctor shopping, employee theft and via the internet. The pharmaceutical drug market has also been infiltrated by fake pills in which a large quantity are smuggled in from Mexico.
DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams were established in response to the overwhelming problem of drug-related violent crime in towns and cities across the nation. In March 2005, the METs prioritized investigations to target and dismantle methamphetamine trafficking organizations and clandestine laboratory operators. In addition DEA Regional Enforcement Teams were 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.
New York City is one of the world’s financial capitals, presenting numerous options for the movement and laundering of drug proceeds. Every type of banking is available in New York to mask illegal activity. Additionally, numerous large scale money shipment and money laundering organizations are active in New York servicing national and international drug organizations. These transportation and laundering organizations regularly conduct thousands of cash trafficking groups. Despite the extensive financial systems available in New York, many trafficking organizations choose to physically smuggle bulk cash out New York City.
DPA is headquartered in New York City and is intensely involved in drug reform campaigns in the city and state. In 2005, DPA won a significant victory in the passage of a bill that eliminates criminal penalties for the possession of naloxone or Narcan an opioid antagonist that is life saving for someone who has overdosed on morphine or a related opiate. The bill also requires the Department of Public Health to track and report overdose deaths in New York.
This year, The DPA is trying to pass a bill that will allow for up to ten syringes to be sold in a pharmacy without a prescription.