The majority of the illicit drug trade in the State of Colorado is controlled by Mexican trafficking organizations. Almost all distribution and sell of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin is under control of secondary Mexican cartels that in turn are controlled by the Columbian Czars. Street gangs with links to bigger criminal organizations in Texas, California, and Mexico are involved in all types of drug distribution throughout the state.
The majority of methamphetamine available in Colorado arrives from Mexico or in many cases originates from large-scale laboratories in California. Because of the intense competition to sell the drug, the potency of methamphetamine produced in Mexico has become comparable to that made in smaller, more sophisticated laboratories located in the State. Underground laboratories are challenging to law enforcement in Colorado, because of their disregard for safety and lack of environmental concern. The majority of these underground laboratory chemists acquire the required:
Despite a step up in enforcement activities, the supply of cocaine continues to increase in the State. Drug trafficking organizations receive cocaine via a secure supply from Mexico. In addition, crack cocaine has become available in the bigger metropolitan areas of Colorado. Street level crack in various amounts is easily obtainable throughout the state and the spread is difficult to control.
Another major headache for the State is the increasing availability of club drugs. These club drugs are marketed at all levels by independent traffickers, small organizations, night clubs and even college students. Recent data indicate that these club drugs are frequently associated with other social problems including:
The control of club drugs spreading has become difficult because of the numerous inpiduals associated with the illicit sell. The major club drugs used in the State includes LSD, Ketamine and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB).
Current investigations indicate that the State also has a major problem with legal pharmaceutical products such as:
The illegal use of OxyContin has skyrocketed in the state. These drugs are primarily obtained with forged prescriptions, employee theft, and online pharmacies.
Marijuana is available throughout Colorado, and is the most widely abused drug in the state. The majority of marijuana is Mexican-grown and is brought into and through Colorado by the Mexican poly-drug trafficking organizations. Another potent form of marijuana, known as BC Bud has now become widely available, despite being more expensive. Because of its more potent euphoric effects, the drug is now being smuggled in increasing amounts from Canada and the Pacific North.
Colorado allows patients to use medical marijuana if they have specified medical conditions and the advice of a physician. This law was enacted in November of 2000 after voters passed Amendment 20 to the state constitution. This law provides protection against prosecution under state law, which is where the majority of marijuana small-use and possession cases occur.
To control the illicit drug trade and related violence, DEA mobile enforcement teams involving state and local law enforcement agencies have been established in Colorado. Since the inception, these mobile units have been involved in an increasing number of arrests and have helped in the dismantling of numerous methamphetamine trafficking organizations and clandestine laboratories. In addition, DEA regional enforcement teams have been established to target the threat by drug trafficking organizations and control the violence.
Like California, Colorado is becoming an attractive breeding ground for drug policy reform. Seven years ago, the residents of Colorado overwhelmingly approved Amendment 20 to the state's constitution, allowing the use of marijuana for medical reasons.
In 2002, the Colorado legislature approved legislation to decrease the penalties for simple possession of illegal drugs. It has been suggested that all the funds collected from drug trafficking should be used to fund drug treatment and drug rehabilitation programs.
More than a quarter of Colorado's state prison inmates comprise of non-violent drug offenders, and millions of taxpayer dollars are used to keep them in prison. Although the new law development would affect only a small number of inmates, it will most likely save millions over the years money which has been earmarked for drug treatment. In addition, the Governor has signed legislation that will re-evaluate the State’s asset forfeiture laws.
Recently, the state legislature passed a bill to decrease jail times for drug offenders arrested with less than one gram of Schedule I and II drugs.