Like all other states, Ohio has not been immune from the epidemic of drug trafficking. Cocaine, marijuana, club drugs, methamphetamine and heroin continue to be widely abused and are readily available in most cities and towns in Ohio. Associated with the drug trafficking is gang related violence, crime, homicides, thefts, prostitution and money laundering. Law enforcement seizures of drugs and inpiduals indicate that at all levels; the new generation of addicts involves all ethnic groups and much younger age groups. The majority of illicit drugs are brought in from Mexico and Columbia.
The one locally made drug is marijuana; the moderate climate and large areas of grassland has not gone unnoticed by the drug traffickers. While methamphetamine laboratories are few and far between, the smuggled variety is on the rise.
Cocaine HCl and crack cocaine combined are a major problem in the state of Ohio. The majority of cocaine is smuggled in to Ohio from the South, inducing California, Arizona, Florida, New York and Texas. Chicago appears to be the major transit zone for shipments of most drugs to the state of Ohio. The cocaine trade is controlled by both the Dominican and Mexican cartels. Seizures along the highways indicate that smugglers routinely use private automobile with hidden compartments to bring the drugs into Ohio. On the streets, the cocaine trade is controlled by ethnic gangs who are integrated into the Mexican Mafia. The majority of powder cocaine is converted to crack before distribution.
Ohio is the one state where the heroin abuse in on the rise. The Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services data estimates that hospital admissions and emergency room visits have increased significantly from the use of heroin. The majority of heroin is from Mexico but recent seizures indicate that Colombian, SE Asian and even Afghan heroin is commonly available in Ohio. The heroin drug trade is controlled by the same drug cartels that control cocaine. The heroin is mostly brought in from the nearby larger cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit and even as far away as Houston. Despite the increased security since 9/11, heroin smuggling via the air route has continued unabated.
Once brought into Ohio, the heroin is repackaged and distributed on the street by various groups. These street gangs are not averse to using violence to protect their territory.
Locally manufactured methamphetamine has decreased since the legislation barred the use of ephedrine in cough mixtures. Despite this setback, clandestine laboratories continue to operate all over the state producing low levels of methamphetamine. The major source of methamphetamine is from other states like California and New York. The Mexican cartels control the methamphetamine trade and on the street combine with motor cycle gangs to help distribute it. The large population has also been used by the Mexican mafia to assist with the distribution of the drug.
The use of Club Drugs such as Ecstasy (MDMA), GHB, Ketamine, PCP and LSD has gradually increased in Ohio. Club Drugs are the drugs of choice at night clubs and raves and are predominantly abused by young adults and college students. MDMA remains the drug of choice at rave parties. The majority of club drugs are smuggled into the State from outside the U.S. Europe has become a favorite place from where these drugs originate. The drugs are either smuggled in via air or via the Parcel post services. With the long porous border to the North, Canada has also become a major source of MDMA into Ohio. The club drug trade is loosely controlled by all ethnic groups. Despite each pill costing about $20, these drugs account for a majority of the illicit drug business.
Marijuana continues to be the most widely abused and readily available illicit drug throughout the state of Ohio. The available supply of marijuana ranges from ounces to kilograms. The rural areas of Ohio provide an adequate environment for the indoor and outdoor cultivation of cannabis. The use of hydroponics and other sophisticated indoor growing techniques produce a more potent form of marijuana. Mexican marijuana is the most commonly seized in the state of Ohio. The marijuana is shipped from Texas and Arizona. Large quantities are shipped into Ohio via the interstates and smaller quantities are smuggled in via the Parcel post service. Mexican criminal groups are the dominant wholesale suppliers of marijuana in Ohio. Local independent criminal groups are also responsible for shipping and distributing wholesale amounts of marijuana into Ohio. Despite the soaring price of marijuana, the drug is still very commonly abused by all ethnic groups and ages.
Current investigations indicate that abuse of pharmaceutical products like oxycodone, oxycontin, methadone, soma, valium, percocet and xanax continues to be a problem in Ohio. The primary method of obtaining these drugs is by illegal sale and distribution by physicians, pharmacists, doctor shopping, forged prescriptions pharmacy thefts and via the internet. The majority of these drugs are smuggled in from other states. Pharmaceutical drugs were once only abused by middle class Caucasians; now recent law enforcement data indicate that abuse among different groups is starting to increase.
Since data tracking began, it is now becoming clear that overdoses and drug-related deaths are not uncommon from the uncontrolled use of these drugs.
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 were established 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. This program was conceived in 1999 in response to the threat posed by drug trafficking organizations that have established networks of cells to conduct drug trafficking operations in smaller, non-traditional trafficking locations in the United States.
Despite the fact that Ohio law decriminalizes marijuana for personal use, it still ranks 35th in the nation in treatment spending and has wide racial disparities in its prison system. There are more African-Americans and Hispanics in Ohio prisons today than in Ohio colleges.
Ohio has made slight progress in providing drug treatment to drug offenders, but Ohio is still in desperate need of drug reform to address drug abuse as a public health rather than criminal justice issue, mitigate the racial disparities in prison, and close the state's budget gap.