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Louisiana Drug Threat Assessment 2001

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2001
This report presents an assessment of the status and outlook of the drug threat to Louisiana.
Louisiana’s extensive coastline makes it an ideal geographical location as a transshipment point for illegal drugs. Louisiana’s proximity to Houston also makes it an ideal location for drug distributors who make frequent trips between the cities. Street gangs play a prominent role in Louisiana’s drug trade, primarily distributing marijuana and crack, although heroin distribution and abuse in New Orleans has recently taken a dramatic upswing. Louisiana has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country, most of which can be attributed to gang-related drug activity. After an executive summary and an overview of Louisiana and its crime characteristics, five sections are offered that enumerate the drug threat to Louisiana by type of drug: cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and other dangerous drugs. The primary drug threat facing Louisiana is crack and powered cocaine. Although evidence suggests that powdered and crack cocaine use has leveled off, it is still a major health concern and is the drug most widely implicated in violent crimes throughout the State. Over 40 percent of drug-related deaths in New Orleans in 1998 were associated with cocaine use. The heroin threat has increased dramatically in Louisiana, although it is primarily confined to the New Orleans metropolitan area. Retail distribution is primarily dominated by street gangs operating out of inner city housing projects. A large portion of the sudden and dramatic increase in violent crime in New Orleans has been attributed to heroin distributors struggling to define territories. Methamphetamine production and abuse has also increased in northern and central Louisiana. Marijuana is the most widely abused drug in the State, particularly among young people. Louisiana’s proximity to Texas and the Southwest border ensure that marijuana is the most readily available drug in Louisiana. Violence associated with marijuana is primarily limited to gangs. The use of other dangerous drugs such as MDMA has increased in Louisiana, as has the diversion of prescription pharmaceuticals. The outlook for the drug threat to Louisiana indicates that cocaine will continue to be the most significant drug problem facing Louisiana and heroin abuse will also continue to expand out of New Orleans and into other parts of the State. Map, charts, tables