A bulletin from the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) released to law enforcement in February 2017 describes how Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) are continuing to exploit legalized markets for the sale and distribution of marijuana. In January 2016, EPIC produced a bulletin detailing how “data provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and open source reporting” indicated that Mexican TCOs had not been adversely affected by marijuana legalization in numerous markets, noting instead “that the effort of legalization had conversely brought new opportunities for illicit profits from marijuana sales.”
(U//LES) EPIC Bulletin: Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) Continue to Profit from Marijuana Sales in Legalized Markets
In January 2016, EPIC published Intelligence Note 02303-16a, this product provided analysis of data provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and open source reporting that indicated Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) continued to operate and profit from marijuana sales in legalized U.S. marijuana markets. EPIC research further showed that legalization of marijuana in some U.S. markets had not adversely impacted TCO profitability in marijuana markets, and that the effort of legalization had conversely brought new opportunities for illicit profits from marijuana sales. As of January 2017, EPIC research indicates that TCOs continue to exploit legalized marijuana markets in the United States.
(U//LES) El Paso Intelligence Center Bulletins: Drug-Smuggling Ambulance, Cocaine in Tin Cans, Contaminated Pot
Three bulletins from the El Paso Intelligence Center on a drug-smuggling ambulance, cocaine hidden in tin cans and pot contaminated with Halon.
El Paso Intelligence Center: A Police Officer’s Reference Guide to Detecting Illicit Trafficking by Aircraft from October 2009.
In 2009, the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) assessed that Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) were operating in the U.S. in at least 1, 286 cities spanning nine regions. Moreover, NDIC assesses with high confidence that Mexican DTO’s in at least 143 of these U.S. cities were linked to a specific Mexican Cartel or DTO based in Mexico—the Sinaloa Cartel (at least 75 cities), the Gulf Cartel/Los Zetas (at least 37 cities), the Juárez Cartel (at least 33 cities), the Beltrán-Leyva DTO (at least 30 cities), La Familia Michoacán (at least 27 cities), or the Tijuana Cartel (at least 21 cities). NDIC assesses with high confidence that Mexican DTOs will further expand their drug trafficking operations in the United States. Due to the rise in violence throughout the Southwest Region and Mexico, members of the Cartels, their associates and their families have been suspected of moving into many U.S. cities along the border. As a result, agencies are requesting information on ways to identify those involved with drug trafficking organizations. The information included in this report is not set in stone as many of these criminal organizations are dynamic and will alter their methods and trends frequently to avoid detection by law enforcement.
Across the United States, synthetic stimulants that are sold as “bath salts” have become a serious drug abuse threat. These products are produced under a variety of faux brand names, and they are indirectly marketed as legal alternatives to cocaine, amphetamine, and Ecstasy (MDMA or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Poison control centers nationwide have received hundreds of calls related to the side-effects of, and overdoses
from, the use of these potent and unpredictable products. Numerous media reports have cited bath salt stimulant overdose incidents that have resulted in emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and severe psychotic episodes, some of which, have led to violent outbursts, self-inflicted wounds, and even suicides. A number of states have imposed emergency measures to ban bath salt stimulant products (or the chemicals in them) including Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, and West Virginia; and similar measures are pending in Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, and Mississippi. A prominent U.S. Senator has also recently proposed legislation that would ban the synthetic stimulant chemicals found in bath salt products at the federal level.
On June 3, 2010, Buncombe/Henderson North Carolina Joint Criminal Interdiction Task Force agents seized 45.45 kilograms (100 pounds) of marijuana that was intentionally contaminated with chemical irritants in Asheville, North Carolina, during a traffic stop. The drugs were seized from a 1994 Dodge Ram conversion van, with a temporary Colorado registration, that was stopped for a traffic violation on eastbound Interstate 40 at mile marker 43 in Asheville. The driver was allegedly travelling from Denver, Colorado, to Charlotte, North Carolina. The driver provided agents with a Mexican driver’s license and claimed to reside in Kansas City, Kansas. The agents requested, and received, consent to search the van. During the search a drug-detection canine alerted to a carpet-covered plywood bed platform that was built in the back of the van.
A new type of crystal methamphetamine with a blue color tint is surfacing sporadically in the United States, primarily in California, Washington, and Texas. This substance, known as “blue meth” or “blue ice,” is allegedly more potent and more expensive than traditional crystal methamphetamine. Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant that is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance and is a widely abused drug. Although it is commonly sold in powder form, it is also distributed as crystals – crystal meth or ice. According to the 2005 Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual, Chapter 2 Part D, Note (C), “Ice,” for the purposes of this guideline, means a mixture or substance containing dmethamphetamine hydrochloride of at least 80% purity.