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New Mexico

New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States, and is the 5th most extensive, 36th most populous, and 6th least densely populated state in the nation. The capitol of New Mexico is Santa Fe, and the center of population is located in Torrance County, in the town of Manzano. The population of New Mexico was 2,085,538 as of 2012. About 51% of the residents of New Mexico were born there, 37.9% were born in a different US state, 1.1% were born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or born abroad to American parent(s), and 9.7% were foreign born. Among all U.S. states, New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanics, with about 47% of residents in the state being descendants of Spanish colonists and recent immigrants from Latin America.

New Mexico Drug Use Trends

Meth Abuse, Addiction and Rehab in New Mexico

Among all the illegal drugs abused in New Mexico, methamphetamine is the greatest drug threat to the state. In 2004, there were 72 drug lab seizures in New Mexico, but by 2011 the state reported only 3 drug lab seizures. While law enforcement restrictions and federal laws have hampered the number of clandestine meth labs in New Mexico, meth abuse and addiction rates continue to remain a problem. Mexican criminal groups have supplemented the decrease in local meth production by trafficking the drug across the border. These criminal groups are smuggling meth into New Mexico not just for residents, but for shipment to other states such as Illinois, California and New York. The area known as the "Four Corners Region", where Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado meet has become a pivotal location for the trafficking and distribution of meth.

During the first part of 2013 NFLIS laboratories in Albuquerque reported that 25.2% of all Albuquerque drug reports were for meth; during that some time period the national average was 14.2%. The state also has an increase in the number of residents seeking New Mexico drug rehabilitation for meth addiction. In 2012, New Mexico drug rehab programs treated 719 individuals for meth addiction as their primary substance of abuse. This group made up 10.9% of all New Mexico drug rehab enrollments during 2012, an increase from 2010 when meth addiction treatment admissions totaled 9.1% of all drug rehab enrollments in the state. The largest age group to attend drug rehab for meth addiction in New Mexico during 2012 was between 31-35 years old.

Alcohol Addiction: A Major Problem in New Mexico

New Mexico has taken an aggressive stance on drunk driving. Residents report seeing advertising against driving while intoxicated through several media sources including billboards, TV. and print campaigns. Drunk drivers have caused a number of fatalities. In 2012, 365 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities occurred. During that same year, 10,126 driving under the influence arrests were made.

Generally, alcohol addiction rates from state to state vary. However, in New Mexico the number of drug rehab enrollments for alcohol addiction are exceptionally higher than average. In 2012, 39% of the drug rehab admissions in New Mexico stated that alcohol was their primary substance of abuse. This group made up the majority of treatment admissions in the state during that year. Of the 2,581 individuals receiving alcohol addiction treatment in New Mexico during 2012, 73.9% were male and 26.1% were female. The age groups enrolling into New Mexico drug rehab programs varied with the largest number of individuals receiving treatment being between 26-30 years old.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment in New Mexico

The decision to get help overcoming addiction is a pivotal moment in an addict's life. While it can sometimes take several attempts before lasting sobriety can be achieved, every step the individual makes towards changing their destructive ways is a step in the right direction. When alcohol or drug addiction have taken control of one's life outside support and guidance is necessary in changing their ways.

In order to fully address alcohol and drug addiction enrolling in a long-term residential or inpatient program is necessary. Statistics show that recovering individuals who remain in treatment for 90 days or longer have the best chances of remaining clean and sober after rehab. This is because inpatient and residential programs that last three months or longer provide the recovering person with the opportunity to get away from their daily lives and remain focused on their recovery. During their time in rehab they reside at the treatment center and receive the support they need during this difficult transition into a sober life. They are able to live and participate in a drug rehab program alongside other likeminded recovering individuals and develop more constructive ways of handling stress and life's ups and downs. These programs include a wide array of treatment modalities (e.g. addiction counseling, behavioral therapy, behavior modification, life skills development) and prepare the recovering individual for life back home.

New Mexico Drug Statistics
State Prison Population in New Mexico: 6,379
Probation Population in New Mexico: 17,725
Violent Crime Rate in New Mexico:
National Ranking: 5
2007 Federal Drug Seizures in New Mexico:
Cocaine seizures in New Mexico: 224.1 kgs.
Heroin seizures in New Mexico: 5.0 kgs.
Methamphetamine seizures in New Mexico: 45.6 kgs.
Marijuana seizures in New Mexico: 37,888.6 kgs.
Hashish seizures in New Mexico: 0.0 kgs.
MDMA seizures in New Mexico: 0.0 kgs./2,068 du
Meth Lab Incidents in New Mexico: 19
(DEA, New Mexico, and local city Law Enforcement)
Drug Situation in New Mexico:

  • New Mexico falls within the El Paso Division zone of responsibility. The El Paso Division covers 54 counties in western Texas and New Mexico, making up 778 miles (approximately 40 percent of the United States/Mexico Border. The El Paso Division has 45 agents in New Mexico, covering an area that includes three Ports-of-Entry (POE) and six checkpoints.
  • The border area between New Mexico and Mexico is sparsely populated and has limited natural or man made barriers to illegal crossing. This, along with an extensive road network that traverses the state in all directions, makes New Mexico a haven for the transshipment of illegal drugs from Mexico to points throughout the United States.
  • New Mexico's proximity to the El Paso/Juarez area makes it vulnerable to illegal drugs smuggled through the major POEs.
  • Added threats to New Mexico are the shipments of controlled substances via commercial vehicles, including aircraft, buses, and by Amtrak rail.
  • New Mexico is considered a hub for large quantities of drug proceeds being laundered through small businesses.
  • Almost all of the New Mexico/Mexico international border (approximately 180 miles) is open desert and is generally uninhabited with numerous roads, trails, footpaths, and ranches allowing smugglers easy entry into the U.S. and access to major highways which traverse the country. New Mexico encompasses over 50,000 square miles of land and is one of the largest states, but is very sparsely populated.
  • Three interstate highways dissect New Mexico: I-10 and I-40 provide east/west access along the southwest border from California to the East Coast. I-25 provides north/south access from Las Cruces, New Mexico to Colorado and Wyoming. The biggest drug threat in New Mexico is the transshipment of drugs and drug proceeds, by Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (MDTOs). MDTOs have also established local poly-drug distribution organizations that are able to distribute multiple kilogram quantities locally in New Mexico and regionally.
  • Another factor impacting New Mexico significantly is the strain drug trafficking and immigration cases puts on the federal judicial and corrections system. The U.S. District Court in New Mexico has the largest case load per judgeship in the nation and has the fourth busiest court overall in the United States. The largest percentages of the caseload confronting the U.S. District Court in New Mexico are immigration and drug cases. In addition to an overloaded court system, the state of New Mexico is crucially short on jail space.
  • Current enhanced enforcement operations by the Department of Homeland Security in Arizona will in due time force drug traffickers and alien smugglers to shift their smuggling efforts from Arizona to New Mexico. This, in turn, will have a serious impact on enforcement operations and judicial proceedings in New Mexico. Recent enhancements for Border Patrol agents in southern New Mexico has somewhat mitigated the increased use of southern New Mexico as a reliable route for alien smuggling, there has been a notable increase in the number of drug seizures and apprehensions of illegal aliens. The marked increase in drug seizures and alien apprehensions severely impacts enforcement operations and judicial proceedings in New Mexico.


  • The El Paso/Juarez corridor serves as a transshipment point for cocaine to various locations in the United States. Loads which have been seized have ranged from 50-800 pounds.
  • Cocaine is brought through New Mexico by MDTOs at an increasing rate.
  • Multiple kilogram amounts of cocaine are often seized in New Mexico from commercial trucks, public transportation and private vehicles.
  • The most common seizures of cocaine in New Mexico are privately owned vehicles interdicted with ten to fifty kilograms of the drug hidden in their vehicle.
  • Cocaine interdicted in New Mexico is commonly destined for Denver, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and Chicago.
  • Recent cocaine interdictions in New Mexico show a possible shift to other destination cites in the Midwest and East Coast.
  • Cocaine is easily available for distribution throughout New Mexico in gram to ounce quantities for local consumption.
  • Local law enforcement authorities consistently rank cocaine and crack cocaine distribution and use as one of the most prominent drug problems in New Mexico.
  • Crack cocaine is readily available throughout New Mexico.
  • In smaller towns, such as Hobbs and Silver City, New Mexico crack cocaine use and distribution is at a level that is considered dangerous to the quality of life.
  • The majority of the crack available in New Mexico comes from cocaine HCl supplied by MDTOs to local crack distributors who then convert the powder cocaine into crack.
  • Ethnic gangs are the main distributors of crack cocaine in urban areas of New Mexican, which poses a threat to school children.
  • Street level distributors can be found in all social and economic layers of the communities of New Mexico.
  • Of high concern in New Mexico is the escalated level of violence associated with crack cocaine traffickers.

  • Mexican black tar and brown heroin are seized often at the POEs in New Mexico.
  • Black tar heroin has long been available in New Mexico from sources in the Mexican states of Sinaloa, Michoacan, and Nayarit.
  • Heroin that is found in New Mexico is most often smuggled in secret compartments in private vehicles and concealed on persons.
  • In Albuquerque, New Mexico Mexican black tar heroin is the most readily available and widely abused.
  • The heroin in New Mexico is usually carried across the border by couriers.
  • There is a high availability of Mexican black tar heroin in Northern New Mexico, and this is a major problem for local law enforcement agencies.
  • Heroin availability has been increasing steadily over the past five years in New Mexico as evidenced by the increase in kilogram seizures and a steady decrease in price.
  • Espanola Valley, an area north of Santa Fe, New Mexico is consistently rated by the U.S. Department of Health and other statistical reporting agencies as having the highest per capita heroin overdose death rate in United States.
  • Local enforcement efforts in New Mexico have resulted in many arrests, however MDTOs routinely rotate their cell managers and other persons frequently making long-term enforcement operations difficult to pursue.

  • Methamphetamine poses a multi-pronged threat in New Mexico.
  • Methamphetamine is available in New Mexico in multi-kilogram quantities.
  • While clandestine lab seizures in New Mexico have dropped significantly over the last year (- 200% according to statistics gotten from the Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System), referral seizures involving Mexican produced methamphetamine have risen dramatically at Border Patrol Checkpoints and highway interdiction stops in New Mexico.
  • Most of the methamphetamine seized in New Mexico originates in Mexico, but arrives in New Mexico from distributors in Los Angeles, CA and Phoenix, AZ operating as part of larger Mexican poly-drug trafficking organizations.
  • Methamphetamine investigations are most prevalent in the area known as the Four Corners region where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet to form a common border and along the eastern New Mexico/Texas border. Small, clandestine laboratories set up in remote, rural locations are popular in this area.
  • There were 19 meth lab incidents in New Mexico in 2007.

  • MDMA (ecstasy), Ketamine, LSD, and GHB are available in New Mexico, mainly in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
  • Rave parties occur routinely in New Mexico, often in remote locations on U.S. Forest Service lands. Attempts to infiltrate these parties have been somewhat successful, resulting in several arrests of low level dealers.
  • Interdiction seizures make up the bulk of club drugs and hallucinogens seized in New Mexico.
  • The majority of the seizures of club drugs and hallucinogens in New Mexico originate in the Los Angeles and Phoenix areas.

  • The diversion of prescription drugs is a significant enforcement issue in New Mexico.
  • Illegal or inappropriate prescription practices are the main source for illegally obtained prescription drugs in New Mexico, primarily in the oxycodone/hydrocodone families.
  • Interdiction efforts also show that prescription drug smuggling from Mexico, where these drugs can be sold over the counter, contributes to the illegal distribution of prescription medications in New Mexico.
  • Making this issue worse is New Mexico's severe shortage of qualified medical personnel forcing state authorities to grant prescriptive authority to practitioners not licensed in other states.
  • New Mexico recently became one of the few states to grant prescribing authority to psychologists who have no medical or pharmaceutical training.

  • Marijuana is the most frequently seized controlled substance in the New Mexico area, and the marijuana seized is generally destined for distribution in eastern markets.
  • Marijuana loads seized from private vehicles and semi-tractor-trailers in New Mexico range from 500 to 8,000 pounds.
  • Multi-pound and multi-ton marijuana seizures transpire at all transportation terminals, U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoints, and local courier service locations in New Mexico.
  • Marijuana smuggled from Mexico is available from a number of sources in New Mexico and western Texas and is the most prevalent drug in New Mexico.
  • New Mexico's vast National Forest land makes the domestic cultivation of marijuana an enforcement issue.

  • Other drugs and pharmaceuticals are available in New Mexico because of El Paso's close proximity to Juarez, Mexico, where purchases can be made over-the-counter from unscrupulous pharmacists.
  • Ecstasy, Rohypnol, and other pharmaceuticals are being used at rave parties in New Mexico. Use of these kinds of drugs has not skyrocketed, as in other metropolitan areas in the United States.

  • Current investigations indicate that diversion of hydrocodone products continues to be a problem in New Mexico.
  • Primary methods of diversion of pharmaceuticals in New Mexico being reported are illegal sale and distribution by health care professionals and workers, "doctor shopping", forged prescriptions, and in-transit theft.
  • Oxycodone products (such as OxyContin), Lortab/Lorcet, and Vicodin were reported as being among the most commonly abused and diverted pharmaceuticals in New Mexico.

  • In 1995 a program was created known as the DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams, or "MET". This was in response to the overwhelming problem of drugs and drug-related crimes across the nation. The MET deployments in New Mexico to Roswell and Farmington targeted methamphetamine trafficking organizations.
  • There were 485 drug violation arrests in New Mexico in 2007.

  • The transportation route into western Texas and New Mexico areas facilitates drugs coming into the U.S. and money being sent back to Mexico. These drug proceeds are hard to track and seize.
  • Money is commonly laundered in New Mexico through legitimate businesses and money exchange houses.
  • Financial investigations leading to the identification and seizure of assets used to facilitate drug smuggling, or acquired as a benefit of such an enterprise, is an effective deterrent in New Mexico.
  • Currency seizures also show that New Mexico is being utilized to return drug proceeds to Mexico and to the wholesale distributors in Arizona and California.
  • Two areas of concern for money laundering in New Mexico are that: Approximately 14 Native American owned and operated casinos that handle billions of dollars in cash that are almost completely unregulated by state and Federal authorities. In Las Cruces, New Mexico, less than miles from the United States/Mexico border, there are over 200 banking facilities, and many of these banking facilities operate from private residences, that are not FDIC insured. Other cities of similar size average 5-10 banking facilities. Special Topics: New Mexico - SB 2enacts the Lynn Pierson Compassionate Use Act to allow qualified patients to possess an "adequate supply" of marijuana, which they must obtain from a "licensed producer." This measure was passed by the Senate and is currently being reviewed by the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.
  • State Policy Offices : New Mexico

    • Governor's Office Office of the Governor
      State Capitol, Fourth Floor
      Santa Fe, NM 87503
      (505) 827-3000
    • State Legislative Contact Legislative Council Service
      State Capitol, Room 311
      Santa Fe, NM 87503
      (505) 984-9600
    • State Drug Program Coordinator Office of Special Projects
      Department of Public Safety
      P.O. Box 1628
      Santa Fe, NM 87504-1628
      (505) 827-3427

    State Criminal Justice Offices : New Mexico

    • Attorney General's Office Office of the Attorney General
      Bataan Memorial Building, Room 260
      Santa Fe, NM 87504-1508
      (505) 827-6000
    • Crime Prevention Office New Mexico Crime Prevention Association
      400 Roma NW
      Albuquerque, NM 87102
      (505) 764-1090
    • Statistical Analysis Center Institute for Social Research
      University of New Mexico
      2808 Central Avenue SE
      Albuquerque, NM 87106
      (505) 277-4257
    • BJA Strategy Preparation Agency Office of Special Projects
      Grants Administration
      Department of Public Safety
      P.O. Box 1628
      Santa Fe, NM 87504-1628
      (505) 877-3338
    • Judicial Agency Administrative Office of the Courts
      Supreme Court Building, Room 25
      237 Don Gaspar Avenue
      Santa Fe, NM 87503
      (505) 827-4800
    • Corrections Agency Correction Department
      Peralta Compound
      1422 Paseo de Peralta
      Santa Fe, NM 87503
      (505) 827-8709

    State Health Offices : New Mexico

    • RADAR Network Agency Department of Health
      Division of Substance Abuse
      Harold Runnels Building
      1190 St. Francis Drive
      Santa Fe, NM 87501
      (505) 827-2601
    • HIV-Prevention Program Health and Environment
      AIDS Prevention Program
      P.O. Box 968
      Santa Fe, NM 87504
      (505) 827-0086
    • Drug and Alcohol Agency Department of Health
      Division of Substance Abuse
      Harold Runnels Building
      1190 St. Francis Drive
      Santa Fe, NM 87505
      (505) 827-2601

    State Education Office : New Mexico

    • State Coordinator for Drug-Free Schools State Department of Education
      300 Don Gaspar Avenue
      Santa Fe, NM 87501
      (505) 827-6648

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