Tennessee is ideally located, surrounded by eight other states and has a wide array of highways that connects to major cities. In addition, the state has an increasing amount of rural land, with a scare population and heavy commercial traffic. All these factors have helped the drug traffickers utilize Tennessee as a point for transshipment of illicit drugs across the US. Tennessee is best described as a user and mover state when it comes to illicit drugs. Because of the large forest land, this has been utilized to grow marijuana in large amounts. All other drugs are smuggled into the state from the Southern cities.
Cocaine is smuggled into the State in large quantities from the Southern US including Texas, New Mexico, Florida and Georgia. The cocaine trade is chiefly controlled by the Mexican drug cartels. Once the cocaine is brought into the state, it is converted to crack cocaine and sold on the streets. On the streets the cocaine trade is controlled by local street gangs. Crack continues to be a major problem in all inner cities in Tennessee. Associated with the crack cocaine abuse, has been gang related violence, crime, thefts, prostitution and inner city poverty. The large migrant population has been very influential in the distribution and trafficking of cocaine in Tennessee.
Recent data indicates that heroin use has stabilized over the past 2 decades and has not been much of a law enforcement problem. The majority of the users remain long time heroin addicts. Heroin from Mexico is available but recently the SE Asian variety has infiltrated the market. Heroin is smuggled into the state from Texas, California, Georgia and New York. Despite the increased purity and cheaper price, the drug is not as heavily abused today.
Like everywhere in the US, the demand and methamphetamine use continues at a high rate, and Tennessee is no exception. The majority of methamphetamine is smuggled in from Mexico and other Southern states. The methamphetamine is smuggled via cars, rail and even the US parcel service is exploited. Despite intense monitoring and surveillance by law enforcement, large quantities of methamphetamine are routinely seized along Tennessee highways. A decade ago, clandestine methamphetamine laboratories flourished all over the State. However, with the recent ban on the use of ephedrine, the laboratories have diminished. Because of the size and the large rural area, clandestine laboratories continue to operate using toxic chemical to manufacture methamphetamine. The majority of the methamphetamine is controlled by the Mexican drug cartels.
There has been a major increase in the use of club drugs in the state of Tennessee. 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 Asian gangs. Recent seizures indicate the drugs are increasingly being smuggled in via the US parcel post services.
The abuse of pharmaceutical drugs continues to rise at an exponential rate. The most commonly abused prescription drugs include oxycontin, hydrocodone, methadone, diazepam, Lortab and Xanax. Oxycontin continues 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 Tennessee 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.
Marijuana abuse and trafficking has always been a major problem in the state. The large rural and mountainous area of Tennessee has been exploited by the drug traffickers and locally grown marijuana is a major problem. The marijuana is grown both in-door and outdoors on public and federal property. The locally grown marijuana is even smuggled into the nearby states. Marijuana is also smuggled in from the Southern states but because of the lack of potency, the home grown product is preferred. Because of the numerous marijuana plots over the entire states, prosecution has been difficult because of the back log of the court system.
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.