South Carolina serves as both a user and a transported of illicit drugs. Recent law enforcement data indicate that the drug cartels have become very organized and use each state to store and traffic their drugs. Every type of illicit drug is available in South Carolina and because of its long coastline, large tourist industry, a large array of highways and an increasing Hispanic workforce; these factors have been thought to help the drug traffickers. Recent seizures indicate that South Carolina is a major transshipment hub for the NE corner and even into Canada. Frequent drug seizures indicate that the drug trade has not diminished and despite the increased security after 9/11, the drug and human trafficking industry is thriving.
Cocaine is readily available throughout all parts of South Carolina. The majority of cocaine is smuggled in from the southern states and Chicago, Georgia, Florida and Texas. The cocaine is converted to crack cocaine and sold on the street. Almost all the inner cities have had their fair share of cocaine addicts, but the greatest abuse of cocaine is centered around the coastal cities. The Mexican drug cartels dominate the cocaine trafficking and use a variety of ways to smuggled the drug into the state. Land, air and sea have all been used to transport the cocaine, but the numbers have remained stable over the past decade. Associated with cocaine drug trade has been street gangs, violence, crime, thefts and inner city poverty.
Heroin use has been steady over the past 2 decades. Despite the increasing purity, low price and availability, the drug has not seen an increase in usage. Small amounts of heroin are available in the major inner cities. The heroin is smuggled in from New York, New Jersey and Mexico. Small amounts are routinely smuggled in the by the migrant workers. Even though the heroin abuse has not increased, the hospital emergency rooms continue to report an influx of heroin related problems which usually require admission.
Methamphetamine use and trafficking has decline over the past decade. The majority of methamphetamine is smuggled in by the Mexican drug cartels who then use the migrant workers to help distribute it across the state. The major source of methamphetamine is from Chicago, NE, Florida, Texas, California and Georgia. Over the years, numerous clandestine laboratories have been discovered which manufacture methamphetamine.
These unsophisticated laboratories use impure and unrefined chemicals. The recent law banning the use of ephedrine has all but stopped these laboratories from manufacturing methamphetamine. The methamphetamine trade is an at all time high and associated with this has been street gangs, violence, crime thefts and inner city poverty.
There has been a major increase in the use of club drugs in the state of South Carolina. 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.
Recent data indicates that Atlanta has become a significant hub for MDMA distribution in South Carolina. Law enforcement agencies are attempting to infiltrate organizations distributing Ecstasy, but the cost of Ecstasy currently available on the street is hampering their efforts.
Pharmaceutical drug abuse 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 South Carolina 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 is readily available throughout South Carolina. The majority of the drug is smuggled in from the southern states. Marijuana is smuggled in large amounts in cars, vans, campers and trucks all of which have hidden compartments. In addition, the large rural area of South Carolina has also been used to grow marijuana. Marijuana is cultivated both indoors and outdoors in both private and public property. The locally made marijuana is more potent and pure than the Mexican variety and is increasingly being shipped across into Colorado and Illinois. In addition, the most potent form of marijuana, called BC Bud, and is smuggled in from Canada. The Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program (DCE/SP) reports seizures and arrest statistics.
Drug proceeds from the drug trade are increasingly smuggled back home or utilized to buy vehicles, homes, planes or even boats. The State government maintains a close vigilance on financial transactions and has the power to seize any proceeds thought to be from drug trafficking.
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.