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FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 1998202/307-0703

ONDCP - 202/395-6618


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- According to a just-released study, Washington, D.C. arrestees were less likely than those studied in five other cities to carry a gun during a drug purchase, with only 4.1 percent reporting they carried a gun during a drug purchase in the 30 days prior to arrest. In contrast, in San Antonio, Texas, over 8 percent carried weapons during drug purchases.

Researchers studied drug use and purchase patterns among arrestees in six cities and concluded that drug markets have different characteristics both within and across cities, according to the report released by the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Within any given city, drug use and drug market participation varied substantially by the three drug types examined: crack, powder cocaine and heroin. In addition to Washington, D.C., the other jurisdictions studied are Chicago, Manhattan, San Diego, San Antonio and Portland, Oregon.

"This study will now form part of the strong scientific base upon which we base drug policy," said ONDCP Director Barry R. McCaffrey. "The National Drug Control Strategy will only succeed in reducing drug abuse if all our programs are based upon research and science. This report hands a new tool to drug treatment providers and police officers--two of the professions which have to deal with drug abuse on a daily, front-line basis."

"These findings will help both law enforcement officials and drug treatment providers in Washington plan their respective strategies," said NIJ Director Jeremy Travis. "This report demonstrates how collecting information about local patterns of drug use and sales can help any community plan for the best use of its resources and ultimately reduce drug use and drug-related crime."

Arrested crack users in the six cities studied were usually less likely to report using a single individual as a source than heroin and cocaine users. On average, crack users reported knowing more dealers from whom they could make purchases than did cocaine and heroin users. In all cities, most were likely to report using a main source who was of their own ethnic or racial background regardless of the drug sought.

Crack users arrested in Washington reported dealer unavailability as the most frequently cited reason for not being able to buy drugs. Most arrested drug users reported making drug purchases outdoors. Over 11 percent of crack users reported living in a shelter prior to their arrest.

Key variables analyzed included: the proximity of drug purchases to the buyer's neighborhood; the buyer's relationship to the seller; the elapsed time, duration and frequency of purchases; the size and price of the drug transactions; how income is generated for drug purchases; the presence of firearms during drug transactions; the quantities of drugs typically used; the form of drug and mode of administration; and the frequency of drug use.

Data were collected between 1995 and 1996 from recently arrested crack cocaine, powder cocaine and heroin users.

Copies of the report are available on the Internet at, or from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) by calling toll-free,


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NIJ 98-047

After hours contact: James Phillips at 888/491-4487 (pager)