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South Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area: Drug Market Analysis 2009

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2009
28 pages
Based on recent law-enforcement reports, interviews with law-enforcement and public-health officials, and statistical data, this report presents an overview of the illicit drug situation in the South Texas (ST) High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), highlighting significant trends and law enforcement concerns related to the trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs.
The ST HIDTA encompasses 14 counties in South Texas, with 13 of the counties being adjacent to Mexico's border. Despite its limited population, the ST HIDTA region influences national-level drug trafficking and drug availability more than any other area along the U.S.-Mexico border. The combination of vast stretches of sparsely populated land and extensive cross-border economic activity at designated ports of entry creates an environment conducive to large-scale drug smuggling. Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have established sophisticated and far-reaching drug transportation and distribution networks along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. Most of these networks incorporate operational cells based in communities within ST HIDTA counties. These expansive trafficking networks extend from the ST HIDTA region to all other regions of the United States, supplying drug distributors for virtually every State in the country. The Mexican DTOs use the region as a key transportation, trans-shipment, and distribution center for large quantities of cocaine, Mexican heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. The amount of methamphetamine and heroin seized in the ST HIDTA region increased significantly in 2008 after declining in 2007. Mexican DTOs are expanding the use of South Texas-based prison gangs and street gangs in their drug trafficking operations. These drug traffickers also hire gangs and individual gang members to commit home-invasion robberies and burglaries, as well as to collect drug debts throughout the South Texas border area. Illicit drug production in the ST HIDTA region is limited to small quantities of powder methamphetamine, marijuana, and crack cocaine. 5 tables, 2 figures, 6 notes, and a list of sources for data and information included in the report