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We Deliver: The Gentrification of Drug Markets on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2002
154 pages
Using ethnographic methods and techniques, this federally funded study examined the 2-year evolution of the variety of illegal retail drug markets on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, examining the structure, functioning, and interactions between existing and emergent drug markets from January 1999 to January 2001.
Manhattan’s Lower East Side is unique in many ways, such as a trend-setter in many areas of social life, including art, music, and drug fashions. It has often been “ahead of the curve” in terms of national drug trends and has the potential to offer insight and clues that resonate with developments taking place in other neighborhoods. This 2-year ethnographic study sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice documented and analyzed changes in the social and technical organization of drug markets on Manhattan’s Lower East Side from January 1999 to January 2001. Ethnographic observations and interviews were conducted on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with 73 dealers of various drugs and 93 users with a little more than half of the sample being white. Major study findings include: (1) the virtual disappearance of street sales; (2) the growth of delivery and delivery services; (3) the growing importance of secondary markets; and (4) the increasing class fragmentation and the gentrification of drug markets. The study also examined the declining incidence and importance of violence and non-drug crime in drug markets and an assessment of the relative impacts on drug markets of law enforcement activities, demographic shifts, and land-use changes. Law enforcement interventions have had little lasting impact on drug use patterns and are only partially responsible for the major transformations which have taken place in drug markets in New York City over the last 15 years. It is recommended that the New York Police Department continue its efforts in containing and controlling public drug markets. References and appendices I-IV

Date Published: October 1, 2002