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Florida Drug Threat Assessment, July 2003

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2003
60 pages
This report is a strategic assessment that addresses the status and outlook of the drug threat to Florida.
Florida, particularly South Florida, is a national transportation hub and distribution center for illicit drugs. The State’s well-developed transportation infrastructure and proximity to source countries make it ideally suited for the movement of licit and illicit goods. Drugs transported by private vehicle, commercial truck, aircraft, maritime vessel, railcar, and package delivery services have an excellent chance of reaching their destinations because of the volume of traffic moving to and through the State daily. This report presents information by each drug type or category on availability, demand, production or cultivation, transportation, and distribution, as well as the effects of a particular drug on abusers and society as a whole. The assessment found that cocaine poses a serious threat to Florida, and is more often associated with violent crime than any other illicit drug in the State. Colombian criminal groups control transportation of the drug to the State and are the primary wholesale distributors of powdered cocaine; the primary criminal groups and gangs that control wholesale distribution of crack cocaine vary by area. Heroin also poses a threat to Florida; it is readily available, frequently abused, and its distribution is occasionally associated with violent crimes. South American heroin is the most prevalent type available, with Mexican black tar and brown powdered heroin also available to a limited degree. Colombian and Mexican criminal groups control the transportation and wholesale distribution of the drug with retail distribution controlled by various other groups. Methamphetamine poses a serious and increasing threat to Florida and is a major public health problem in some areas of the State. Its production, distribution, and abuse are often associated with violent crime. Mexican criminal groups are the primary transporters and wholesale distributors of methamphetamine, while the dominant retail distributors are Mexican and Caucasian dealers. Marijuana is the most widely available and frequently abused illicit drug, with the primary sources being Jamaica and Mexico. While no specific group controls wholesale distribution, Jamaican and Mexican criminal groups are the most prominent distributors; local independent dealers and gangs are the most prominent midlevel and retail distributors in the State. MDMA is widely available and abused in Florida and produced primarily in the Netherlands and Belgium. Israeli and Russian criminal groups are the dominant transporters and wholesale distributors of MDMA, while local independent Caucasian dealers are the primary retail distributors. Other dangerous drugs are also available in Florida, but to a lesser extent than cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and MDMA. The assessment found that the abuse of diverted pharmaceuticals is increasing more rapidly than any other drug. The outlook for Florida is that it will continue to be an ideal location for the transportation, distribution, and abuse of illicit drugs; and that drug trafficking organizations will continue to exploit the State’s infrastructure to facilitate their drug trafficking and money laundering activities. Tables, map, and list of sources