Friday, February 13, 2009

Crime Free AZ: Arizona Drug Trafficking

february 12, 2009 - Drug Trafficking

Due to its shared border with Mexico, Arizona has become one of the main corridors for drug traffickers. In 2007, approximately 50 percent of all illicit drugs seized by the U.S. Border Patrol along the Southwest Border occured in Arizona. The number and severity of assaults targeting law enforcement personnel patrolling the Arizona-Mexico border is increasing dramatically. Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) are ordering their members to use violence to protect their drug shipments from law enforcement interdiction.

Mexican DTOs are the greatest drug trafficking threat to the United States. They control most of the U.S. drug market and have established a large network of transportation routes, advanced communications capabilities, and strong affiliations with gangs in the United States.
(Source: National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat Assessment 2009)

The Phoenix metropolitan area is a regional and national-level transportation and distribution center for methamphetamine and marijuana, and a regional distribution center for other illicit drugs, primarily cocaine and Mexican black tar heroin. The area's transportation infrastructure facilitates the shipment of illicit drugs from Mexico to Phoenix for local distribution and transshipment to drug markets throughout the country, such as Atlanta, Georgia; Columbia, South Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Las Vegas, Nevada; Nashville, Tennessee; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Drug Market Analysis)

In the past year, Arizona has become the #1 state in the nation for kidnappings. Many of these kidnappings are related to the Mexican drug cartels. Arizona is also encountering armed men dressed like local law enforcement coming into our communities to administer hits on people affiliated with the drug gangs.

The Mexican "war on drugs" has unfortunately resulted in increased drug-related deaths and abductions of judges, police, witnesses, journalists, and now innocent citizens. More than 7,000 deaths have occurred within the last three years, about 4,000 in this past year alone. There is a growing perception among Mexicans that their government is losing the war against these well-armed drug cartels.
(Source: Ralph E. Stone, The Mexican Drug Trade: Supply and Demand)


The trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs inflicts tremendous harm upon individuals, families, and communities throughout the U.S.. The violence, intimidation, theft, and financial crimes carried out by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), criminal groups, gangs, and drug users in the United States poses a significant threat to our nation. The cost to society from drug production, trafficking, and abuse is difficult to fully measure or convey; however, the most recent data available are helpful in framing the extent of the threat. For example:

  • More than 35 million individuals used illicit drugs or abused prescription drugs in 2007.
  • In 2006 individuals entered public drug treatment facilities more than 1 million times seeking assistance in ending their addiction to illicit or prescription drugs.
  • More than 1,100 children were injured at, killed at, or removed from methamphetamine laboratory sites from September 2007 through September 2008.
  • For 2009 the federal government has allocated more than $14 billion for drug treatment and prevention, counterdrug law enforcement, drug interdiction, and international counterdrug assistance.
  • In September 2008 there were nearly 100,000 inmates in federal prisons convicted and sentenced for drug offenses, representing more than 52 percent of all federal prisoners.
  • In 2007 more than 1.8 million drug-related arrests in the United States were carried out by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
  • Mexican and Colombian DTOs generate, remove, and launder between $18 billion and $39 billion in wholesale drug proceeds annually.
  • Diversion of controlled prescription drugs cost insurance companies up to $72.5 billion annually, nearly two-thirds of which is paid by public insurers.

(Source: National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat Assessment 2009)

Drug Trafficking Organizations or Criminal Groups Operating in the United States

Region Cocaine Methamphetamine Heroin Marijuana MDMA







Mexican DTOs and criminal organizations are the most influential and pervasive threats with respect to drug transportation and wholesale distribution in nearly every region of the country and continue to increase their involvement in the production, transportation, and distribution of most major illicit drugs.
(Source: National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat Assessment 2007)

"Arizona must take the lead in enforcing our borders to protect our citizens
and reduce the drug flow and drug traffickers from opening shop in Arizona.

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