Pennsylvania has been associated with abuse of all types of drugs including Heroin, Cocaine and Marijuana. Despite intense law enforcement, smuggling and trafficking of drugs remains at an all-time high. Besides the smuggling of drugs from outside the state, locally made marijuana, clandestine methamphetamine laboratories and thefts of prescription drugs continue to be a problem all over the state. Banning of precursor chemical like ephedrine has made little impact in the locally manufactured methamphetamine. Recent seizures indicate that Methamphetamine abuse remains a major problem in all counties in the state and data indicate that a newer generation of young females is increasingly using this drug.
Drug trafficking and smuggling is mostly done by the cartels. These groups smuggle in the drugs via automobiles, air and US parcel post services. Philadelphia remains the hub for the distribution of all drugs across the state. Street gangs have established themselves in most inner cities and are not averse to using violence and extortion.
Recent increases in drug overdoses and use among teenagers has led the drug enforcement agencies to maintain an increased vigilance and monitoring of these organizations. Pennsylvanian has one of the harshest illicit drug laws to control the epidemic of drug trafficking.
Cocaine still remains a very popular drug for abuse in the state. Despite the increased prices and less potent stuff available, the use has not diminished. Most of the cocaine is smuggled in from New York, Florida, Texas, California, Illinois and Michigan. Once the cocaine is brought into the state it is converted to crack cocaine and made readily available on the street.
The lucrative cocaine market has also led to establishment of numerous gangs who remain territorial and prone to violence. Inner city poverty and prostitution remain big issues associated with crack use. The use of crack is frequently associated with abuse of other drugs like alcohol and heroin. Recent hospital admissions indicate that crack associated health problems are on the increase and numerous fatalities have occurred in the past decade. The crack cocaine trade is controlled by numerous drug traffickers.
Heroin from South America is widely available throughout the state and the drug traffickers heavily market this drug for distribution. In the inner cities the heroin abuse is at all time high. Almost all counties in Pennsylvania have been affected by the heroin epidemic. The drug has become much cheaper to buy and more potent in the last decade. At the street level, heroin can easily be purchased from numerous gangs.
Recent seizures indicate that heroin is heavily smuggled into the state and stored all over the rural counties. With the recent wave of Asian immigrants, the SE Asian variety of heroin is increasingly available in the state. The majority of heroin is smuggled in from Chicago, New York, Florida, California and Texas.
Methamphetamine has remained the drug of choice for many drug abusers. It is widely available in most inner cities. It is smuggled into the state from Mexico, California and Texas. The drug traffickers use various means of transport, including air, automobiles and even the US parcel post service to bring in the methamphetamine. The methamphetamine trade is very lucrative and this has been associated with numerous drug gangs which remain territorial and are prone to violence to protect their drug trade.
With the large rural and mountainous area, law enforcement agencies have recently seized numerous clandestine methamphetamine laboratories. Because of the difficulty in detection of these laboratories; numerous drug traffickers have established themselves in the mountainous area. Recent law changes banning the use of ephedrine in cough mixtures have not made much impact on the local manufacture of methamphetamine. These laboratories account for the vast majority of methamphetamine laboratories seized in Pennsylvania. However, the production outputs of these laboratories represent only a small percentage of the methamphetamine consumed in all of Pennsylvania. Methamphetamine remains popular because of its longer lasting action and cheaper price.
Club drugs are on the increase in the state. MDMA (ecstasy) is primarily available at rave parties and nightclubs in the inner cities and most colleges. These drugs are quite commonly abused by the college students and young teenagers. All types of club drugs are easily available, including GHB, LSD, PCP and ketamine. The club drugs are trafficked by numerous organizations including the Russians Israelis, European and even the Chinese. The majority of club drugs are smuggled in via the air, land and rail. Recent seizures indicate that Canada is also a major supplier of MDMA.
California is the most commonly reported source area for quantities of LSD, while California and New York are considered the source areas for the PCP that is primarily distributed in Philadelphia. Typically, these drugs are transported in vehicles or shipped in parcels via the US Postal Service.
Marijuana is easily available in all parts of the state. The majority of marijuana is smuggled in from the South, California, Chicago and Florida. The marijuana is smuggled in via automobiles, trucks and vans all of which have hidden compartments. Recently, the purer and potent type of marijuana, BC Bud, is increasingly smuggled in from Canada.
Marijuana is abused by all ethnic groups at all social economic levels. The drug is frequently abused by the younger generation of college students and teenagers. While smuggled marijuana amounts for a large proportion of the drug in the state, there is also moderate cultivation of the home grown product. Because of the large mountainous area and with forest land, marijuana plots have arisen all over the state.
Due to the proximity to major thoroughfares, localities throughout the state continue to traffic drugs all over the state. At the retail level, Hispanic, African Americans, and Caucasian groups, along with some dominant Jamaican organizations, control the marijuana market across Pennsylvania.
Current investigations indicate that the abuse of prescription drugs and hydrocodone products such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Fentanyl, Valium, Soma, Lortab and Percocet continue to be a problem in Pennsylvania. Primary methods of persion being reported are illegal sale and distribution by pharmacists, physicians, doctor shopping, forged prescriptions and via the Internet.
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.
Recent drug law reforms now support the treatment of non-violent drug offenders instead of incarceration. The legislation provides for intensive drug treatment as part of a drug sentence rather than incarceration. In December of 2000 the legislature also restored the right to vote to former felons convicted of drug crimes.