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CA State Fact sheet

  State Facts
  Population: 33,871,648
  Law Enforcement Officers: 75,516
  State Prison Population: 158,759
  Probation Population: 332,414
  Violent Crime Rate National Ranking: 8
  2002 Federal Drug Seizures
  Cocaine: 9,551.1 kgs.
  Heroin: 84.7 kgs.
  Methamphetamine: 311.2 kgs.
  Marijuana: 11,172.7 kgs.
  Clandestine Laboratories: 1,718 (DEA, state, and local)

Drug Situation: Due to California's diverse culture and unique geography, there are many issues that affect the drug situation in California. Drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana are smuggled into the state from Mexico; however, methamphetamine and marijuana are also produced or cultivated in large quantities within the state. San Diego remains a principal transshipment zone for a variety of drugs - particularly cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine - smuggled from Mexico. Most drug traffickers/organizations that are encountered by investigators continue to be polydrug traffickers rather than specializing in one type of drug. Methamphetamine and marijuana continue to be the drugs of choice in the San Diego and Imperial County area. Traffickers are looking for alternate routes to smuggle narcotics into the country since a great emphasis is still being placed on screening people and vehicles upon entering the U.S. from Mexico at San Ysidro, CA. There is an increase in narcotics trafficking in the East County of San Diego, as well as in Imperial County. Law enforcement agencies in the Imperial Valley reported a steady increase in drug seizures compared with last quarter. With security more relaxed since Sept. 11, 2001, drug traffickers appear to be returning to business as usual. Calexico's West Port of Entry, located in downtown Calexico, experienced the greatest number of drug seizures of the three border crossing points in Imperial County. This increase coincides with greater air smuggling activity observed along the Southwest Border.

Cocaine: Mexican trafficking organizations dominate the wholesale cocaine trade, smuggling from Mexico into the United States. Cocaine is readily available throughout the state with Los Angeles being the nation's largest cocaine transshipment and distribution center. Typically, traffickers transport the cocaine to Los Angeles in vehicles with hidden compartments and then offload the cocaine into stash houses. The cocaine is then distributed in the Los Angeles metropolitan area or shipped to other communities throughout the country. The majority of the cocaine destined for the US continues to enter the country via land conveyance through the Ports of Entry along the California/Mexico border. In addition, substantial cocaine seizures by US Customs (BICE) at the Ports of Entry serve as evidence that cocaine traffickers continue to have confidence in the "shotgun" approach. Narcotic Task Force Team 1 has noticed an increase in the sale of powdered cocaine in the San Diego coastal communities ranging from Mission Beach to Del Mar. The organization responsible for providing the cocaine in these areas is from Veracruz, Mexico.

Heroin: : California-based law enforcement agencies primarily seize Mexico black tar heroin. However, Southeast Asian, Southwest Asian, and Colombian heroin seizures periodically occur throughout the State. Mexican black tar heroin traffickers traditionally smuggle five pounds or less of Mexican black tar heroin across the border but law enforcement officials occasionally seize larger shipments. The increased availability of high-purity heroin that can be snorted allows a new, younger user population to use heroin without a syringe and needle. Drug treatment specialists stated that these new heroin users ingest large quantities of heroin that quickly move them to addiction. Law enforcement officials normally encounter ethnic West African and Southeast Asian nationals in the distribution and transportation of Asian heroin. California does not have any noticeable heroin abuse within its Asian communities. Black tar heroin remains the predominant type of heroin encountered in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Heroin seized in San Diego and Imperial Counties continues to be almost primarily Mexican black tar heroin. Mexican brown powder heroin is encountered on a less frequent basis. Heroin seems to be readily available in all quantities, and the purity is relatively high (40 to 80 percent). The heroin trade in San Diego and Imperial Counties continues to be dominated by close-knit Mexican families and organizations. Imperial County confidential sources report that Colombian heroin is now available on the streets.

Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine is the primary drug threat in California. Mexican organizations dominate the production of high-quality meth, while a secondary trafficking group, comprised predominantly of Caucasians, operates small, unsophisticated laboratories. Clandestine laboratory seizures can be found in any location: high-density residential neighborhoods, sparsely populated rural areas, and remote desert locations. Over the past year, Mexican national meth traffickers have moved their laboratories to Northern California locations and Mexico to avoid increased law enforcement pressure. Methamphetamine is the most commonly abused drug in San Diego and Imperial Counties. The increase in number of Mexico-based labs has created an increase in the availability of methamphetamine in both San Diego and Imperial Counties. In fact, the increase in frequency of methamphetamine seizures at the US/Mexico border, and the decrease in the size of the clandestine labs being seized in San Diego County, seems to indicate that methamphetamine is being manufactured primarily in Mexico. Media reports in Mexico concerning explosions at methamphetamine labs in Tijuana and Ensenada, Mexico are quite common. All San Diego enforcement groups have noted that the purity levels of methamphetamine range from as low as ten percent to as high as 100 percent. The White and Hispanic communities are the predominant groups involved in the trafficking of this drug. The average methamphetamine user is willing to pay the higher price for high-quality "ice", instead of purchasing the lower purity methamphetamine.

Club Drugs: MDMA (Ecstasy) is the most popular "club drug" with teens and young adults in the state. Israeli organizations have maintained their dominance of the wholesale importation and distribution of MDMA, while a few other criminal organizations are involved in the street level distribution of the drug. Users may take Ecstasy in combination with marijuana, alcohol, GHB, and methamphetamine to lengthen the effects of MDMA, and to counteract the undesirable effects of other drugs. LSD, Ketamine and GHB are also encountered in the rave scene. The use of both heroin and "club drugs" has increased among youth in San Diego County. In addition, investigators are also encountering GHB/Ecstasy more frequently at clubs, and among close knit groups such as the military and the homosexual community. Ongoing investigations in San Diego indicate that the availability of Ecstasy is increasing in San Diego County from small to large quantities. There is an increase in the manufacturing of Gamma Hydroxibutyrate (GHB), due to the relative ease of obtaining the necessary precursors (GBL and sodium hydroxide) and the availability of internet "recipes."

Prescription Drugs: Vicodin, Ritalin, Rohypnol, Ketamine, and Valium are commonly diverted pharmaceutical narcotics. Many of these narcotics are used by teens and young adults frequenting the club scene. Rohypnol is available without a prescription at pharmacies throughout Mexico. The Los Angeles area, specifically Compton, California, is the primary source of PCP found in the United States. Consequently, PCP remains readily available. Diverted pharmaceutical drugs are readily available in the San Diego area. Hydrocodone products including Vicodin, VicodinES, Lortab, and Vicoprofen remain the diverted pharmaceutical drugs of choice for retail diversion in San Diego. Illicit mail order distribution operations in San Diego County continue to be a popular method to distribute pharmaceuticals.

Marijuana: Marijuana is the most widely available and abused illicit drug in California. Large quantities of low-grade marijuana are smuggled into the state from Mexico. Highly potent Canadian marijuana, known as "BC bud" is also transported into the state. Potent domestic marijuana is also cultivated in sophisticated indoor, hydroponic gardens throughout the state. Statewide, cultivation has increased since California's voters passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, removing state legal sanctions for marijuana used to alleviate specific medical conditions with a doctor's recommendation. Cannabis "clubs" or "cooperatives" have established themselves as illegal distributors under the guise of "caregivers." Marijuana, both domestic and imported, is widely available in the San Diego area of responsibility, and continues to be the most prevalent drug smuggled into San Diego and Imperial Counties from Mexico. During this quarter, Mexican federal police elements seized multi-ton quantities of the drug in Baja California, Mexico. Enforcement Group 2 reports that marijuana, alcohol and methamphetamine are used interchangeably by chemically dependent individuals.

Crack: African-Americans in San Diego's inner city neighborhoods are the populace most frequently involved in the distribution of crack cocaine. However, the cocaine obtained to make the "crack" is acquired from Mexican nationals. The San Diego Mobile Enforcement Team ended its deployment in Oceanside, CA, which targeted CRIPS and BLOODS street gang members. These individuals were distributing crack cocaine and methamphetamine in the Oceanside beach area, but resided in Los Angeles, CA. This deployment resulted in a total purchase/seizure of 548 grams of crack cocaine, 254 grams of cocaine hydrochloride, 1,100 grams of methamphetamine, 106 grams of marijuana, 29 grams of PCP, one Jennings J-22 semi-automatic handgun and $37,174 in US currency. A total of 35 individuals were arrested.

Other Drugs: Vicodin, Ritalin, Rohypnol, Ketamine, and Valium are commonly diverted pharmaceutical narcotics. Many of these narcotics are used by teens and young adults frequenting the club scene. Rohypnol is available without a prescription at pharmacies throughout Mexico. The Los Angeles area, specifically Compton, California, is the primary source for the majority of PCP found in the United States. Consequently, PCP remains readily available.

DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams: This cooperative program with state and local law enforcement counterparts was conceived in 1995 in response to the overwhelming problem of drug-related violent crime in towns and cities across the nation. There have been 381 deployments completed resulting in 15,731 arrests of violent drug criminals as of March 2003. There are three DEA Division offices in California: Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. Combined, these three divisions have completed 58 Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) deployments throughout the State of California since the inception of the program. These cities are: San Luis Obispo (2), Oxnard/Ventura, Gardena, Century, Rampart (2), Antelope Valley, El Monte, Santa Maria, Quad Cities in Los Angeles, Coachella Valley, Wilshire, Pico Rivera, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Santa Paula, Hollenbeck, Devonshire, Ontario, Pasadena, Baldwin Park, Bell Gardens, Garden Grove, Oceanside (2), El Cajon, Chula Vista, National City (2), Vista, San Diego (2), La Mesa, Escondido, San Marcos, Spring Valley, Richmond (2), Vallejo, Seaside (2), Merced, Modesto, Oakland (2), West Contra Costa County, Eastern Kern County, Yuba County, San Jose, Stanislaus County, Woodland (2), Salinas, Santa Cruz (2), Monterey, and Sacramento.