Texas Drug Use Trends
As the second most populous state, Texas is home to 26,956,958 residents (2014 census). Located in the south central part of the United States, Texas shares an international border with Mexico. Mexican cartels smuggle hundreds of millions of dollars worth of drugs over the border into Texas each year. This makes Texas a primary gateway through which illegal drugs are smuggled into the U.S. The violence connected with the illegal drug trade in Texas has lead to a number of deaths for border guards, DEA agents, Mexican immigrants and local residents. The primary drugs being smuggled into Texas by Mexican drug cartels include heroin, cocaine, marijuana and most recently prescription drugs.
Mexican Drug Cartels in Texas
The Department of Public Safety reports that Mexican drug cartels are one of the most significant threats to the state of Texas. These criminal organizations are responsible for controlling the flow of illegal substances into the state, trafficking illegal aliens and many of the violent attacks that take place throughout Texas. Law enforcement agencies note the increase in Mexican drug cartels activity is due to Texas's permeable border, resident's unsatiated need for drugs, forced labor and the illegal sex industry. These criminal groups deter focus on their drug smuggling by helping illegal aliens enter the country as bait while simultaneously trafficking illegal drugs across the border.
Drug Use among Texas Youth
As the drug threat in Texas remains high, substance abuse and addiction trends among Texas's youth has seen a decrease. The rate of alcohol use among Texas residents in seven through twelfth grade decreased from 57.5% in 2012 down to 50.5% in 2014. The number of binge drinking episodes among this group also decreased from 18% in 2012 to 13.8% in 2014. The use of marijuana among Texas youths has decreased as well. In 2012, 11.1% of those surveyed reported past-month marijuana use compared to 9.1% in 2014.
The use of cocaine and crack cocaine among the youth of Texas has diminished. In 2014, 2.2% of those surveyed reported every trying cocaine or crack cocaine compared to 4.6% in 2012. Between 2012 and 2014 the use of Ecstasy decreased from 5.7% down to 2.7% among this age group. Additionally, the use of meth has gone down among those surveyed by 2.5% since 2012. Less than 1% reported any use of meth during their lifetime as of 2014.
Liquid Meth in Texas
As the illegal drug trade escalates in Texas traffickers have become more creative with their products. In Houston and many areas of Texas a liquid form of meth is being sold. This new version of meth is more concealable than the crystal and powdered forms of the drug. Dealers are putting it in drinking bottles and traffickers are smuggling large amounts of liquid meth across the border and throughout Texas in fifty-five gallon drums and even gas tanks. Once the liquid meth arrives at its destination it is converted by meth cooks into crystals, one of the most popular forms of the drug.
- Annalists from the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency estimate 90% of the meth in Texas is smuggled into the state from Mexico.
- Meth production in Texas decreased around 2006 but than began to escalate again in 2008.
- As many as 150 Mexican drug cartels, gangs and operations have established networks in Texas.
- Federal agents in Texas are seeing Mexican meth purity levels above 95%.
- Due to the high demand for Mexican meth, the amount of cocaine being smuggled into Texas has decreased by 58%. During 2011 16,908 kilograms of cocaine was seized at the Texas/Mexico border compared to 7,143 kilograms seized at the border during 2012.
Texas Drug Rehab Programs
2013 statistics from Texas drug rehab programs show that 39,674 individuals enrolled in treatment. Marijuana was the primary reason behind many residents enrollment into Texas drug rehab programs. 21.1% of those admitted into drug rehab programs in Texas reported marijuana addiction as their reason for receiving addiction treatment. Heroin addiction was the second leading reason behind many residents enrolling in Texas drug rehab programs during 2013. 15.5% of all Texas drug rehab enrollments during 2013 were receiving treatment for heroin addiction.
The most common types of Texas drug rehab programs include: long-term inpatient treatment, short-term inpatient treatment, long-term residential drug rehab, short-term residential drug rehab, outpatient care, individualized drug counseling and group counseling. As treatment approaches and recovery programs continue to evolve and diversify, many Texas drug rehab programs do not fit neatly into "traditional" drug rehab classifications. There is often an overlap in treatment modalities and methods among programs in an effort to combine the most effective recovery techniques each drug rehab program deems valuable.
- Short-Term Treatment: These programs often run 3-6 weeks and are based on a modified 12-step approach to recovery.
- Long-Term Treatment: A long-term treatment program varies in length from 3-12 months depending on the rehab center and focuses on the "resocialization" of the recovering individual. During their time in long-term treatment the program participant works on developing their personal accountability and responsibility in addition to learning to live socially productive lives.
- Inpatient/Residential Drug Rehab: These intensive drug rehab programs provide care 24 hours a day. Clients reside at the treatment facility during their time in the program and benefit from a structured daily schedule, a drug-free environment and educational courses and activities designed to help them examine characteristics of themselves that need to be changed while adopting new more constructive ways of handling life substance-free.
- Outpatient Treatment: These programs differ in the types of services they provide and the intensity of their treatment methods. Low-intensity outpatient drug rehab often provides limited support and focuses primarily on drug education. More thorough forms of outpatient drug rehab may offer intensive day treatment comparable with the services one would receive at an inpatient or residential program without having to reside at the treatment facility.
Population in Texas:22,859,968
State Prison Population in Texas:168,105
Probation Population in Texas:428,773
Violent Crime Rate in Texas:
2007 Federal Drug Seizures in Texas:
Cocaine seizures in Texas:13,134.6 kgs.
Heroin seizures in Texas:109.3 kgs.
Methamphetamine seizures in Texas:322.7 kgs./92 du
Marijuana seizures in Texas:490,313.8 kgs.
Hashish seizures in Texas:0.2 kgs.
MDMA seizures in Texas:0.0 kgs./69,341 du
Meth Lab Incidents in Texas:78
(DEA, Texas, and local city Law Enforcement)
Drug Situation in Texas:
- The DEA Dallas Field Division (DFD) deals with the northern half of the State of Texas (121 of the state's 254 counties), as well as the entire state of Oklahoma - an area covering approximately 174,743 square miles.
- The greater Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas serves as a drug distribution and transshipment area.
- Drug smuggling and transportation in Texas are dominated by major Mexican trafficking organizations. These groups are poly-drug organizations smuggling methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana to the Dallas/Fort Worth area for distribution in the Eastern, Southeastern, and Midwestern United States. The central location and proximity to the Mexican Border provide a natural advantage for drug distribution/transshipment throughout Texas and the United States.
- Due to its geographical location and extensive transportation infrastructure, the Houston Field Division in Texas continues to serve as a primary transshipment area for the bulk importation of most major categories of drugs to include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine. Drug smuggling and illicit transportation in this Division in Texas are primarily dominated by Mexican, Colombian and Dominican poly-drug trafficking organizations.
- The El Paso Division area-of-responsibility covers counties in West Texas and New Mexico, comprising 778 miles, which is approximately 40% of the U.S./Mexico Border. The Division has 133 agents, who are responsible for an area that includes 20 Ports-of-Entry (POE) and USBP Checkpoints, 9 of which are in New Mexico, in addition to an estimated minimum of 80 illegal crossing points. Some of these locations are over 100 miles from our offices.
- This area of the Southwest is unique due to it's location on the U.S./Mexico border. El Paso, Texas and its sister city, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, comprise the largest metropolitan area on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Nearly 2.2 million people live on the El Paso/Juarez borderplex. Over 1.5 million people reside in Juarez.
- NAFTA had a major impact on the El Paso/Juarez area. People crossing the international bridges daily and the large transportation industry available in this area (air, bus, trucking and rail) provide drug traffickers with innumerable drug and money smuggling opportunities. Rural, desert-like areas in New Mexico and West Texas, whether they be large ranches, National Park land backing up to the border, or some easily crossed places along the Rio Grande, offer significant smuggling opportunities to drug trafficking organizations.
- West Texas is the gateway for narcotics intended for major metropolitan areas in the U.S., which is commonly referred to as the El Paso/Juarez Corridor. Sources-of-supply (SOS) from Mexico move large amounts of marijuana and cocaine through the POEs via major east/west and north/south interstate highways that crisscross through the El Paso Division in Texas. These highways provide the traffickers with transportation routes for distribution of drugs throughout the country. Drug traffickers also obtain warehouses in El Paso for stash locations and recruit drivers from the area to transport the narcotics to various destinations throughout the U.S. Additional threats to the region are the shipments of controlled substances via commercial vehicles, including aircraft, buses, and by Amtrak rail. Although bulk currency is moved south over the international bridges to Mexico, the city of El Paso, Texas has large amounts of illicit drug proceeds laundered through small businesses.
- The Alpine, Texas Resident Office covers 22,609 miles, 315 of which are directly on the Southwest Border. This area of Texas is mostly rural and sparsely populated, including Big Bend Corridor, a transshipment route for drugs entering the U.S. from Northeast Mexico. These shipments travel en route to Midland/Odessa and other cities in the U.S. Criminal organizations based in Chihuahua, Mexico maintain command and control elements in the Midland/Odessa area to the north and in the border towns of Presidio and Redford to the south. Higher echelon members of the criminal organizations are often extended family members, making penetration of those organizations extremely difficult.
- The Mexican Government is constructing a 4-lane "La Entrada al Pacifico" highway (95% complete) which will serve as a northeast/southwest trade route from the port city of Topolobampo, Sinaloa, Mexico, through the Presidio, Texas POE, and intersects 3 major east-west Interstate highways: I-I-20, and I-40. It is estimated that as much as 30% of the container shipments will be diverted from California ports to Mexican ports. This highway begins at a deep-water Pacific Ocean port that is over 500 miles closer, and much less congested than the Port of Los Angeles. This completed route will save up to four shipping days for goods moving between the Pacific Rim countries and Texas.
- The South Orient Railroad (purchased by the State of Texas in 2001), was leased for 40 years to Nuevo Grupo, Mexico, and is to provide not only daily passenger train service but also freight service between Mexico and the U.S.
- North Texas is a distribution and transshipment area for cocaine that is distributed in passenger vehicles and tractor-trailers to locations in the Midwestern, Northern, and Eastern U.S.
- Intelligence reports cite that organizations operating on the East Coast are interested in setting up an operation in the greater Dallas area of Texas in order to obtain reliable supplies of cocaine at a lower price than what they pay on the East Coast.
- The Houston Division in Texas is a substantial transshipment, distribution, and consumption center for Colombian cocaine.
- Cocaine is either shipped directly to Texas or transshipped through Mexico.
- Illicit transporters of cocaine into Texas prefer the use of the commercial trucking industry to move bulk (multi-hundred kilogram) quantities of Colombian cocaine through the Houston Division. Smaller loads are seized regularly from privately owned vehicles or from couriers utilizing buses or the airlines.
- The El Paso, Texas/Juarez corridor acts as a transshipment point for cocaine to various locations in the U.S. Seized loads range from 50-800 pounds.
- Cocaine is the drug of choice in New Mexico and the availability is high. Transporters of the drug use the El Paso, Texas/Juarez corridor to transport cocaine to Albuquerque and the drug is distributed to other parts of the State from there. Cocaine is transported through New Mexico by MDTOs at an escalating rate.
- Multiple kilogram amounts of cocaine are routinely seized from commercial trucks, public transportation and private vehicles in Texas. Most commonly, seizures occur when couriers are interdicted on public transportation with two to three kilograms of cocaine carried on their body.
- Crack cocaine remains popular and easily attainable throughout the metropolitan areas of Dallas and Fort Worth in Texas.
- The Dallas metropolitan area of Texas acts as the main distribution point for crack to outlying areas in North Texas as well as the states of Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi.
- Crack is easily available throughout the Houston Division of Texas.
- Crack is produced locally in Texas.
- Crack is trafficked by local organizations along the I-10 corridor in east Texas to western Louisiana.
- There is substantial availability of "crack" cocaine in El Paso, Texas, where the drug's use is considered low to moderate.
- In Midland, Texas, crack cocaine use and distribution is at a level that is considered dangerous to the quality of life. The crack cocaine problem is a primary concern to both local and federal law enforcement agencies in the Midland/Odessa area of Texas.
- Mexican black tar (MBT) heroin is the primary heroin threat in north Texas.
- MBT heroin is easily available throughout north Texas.
- Intelligence reports that the greater Dallas Fort Worth area of Texas is a distribution point for MBT heroin shipped to the Eastern, Southeastern, and Midwestern United States.
- The average heroin purity level for the Dallas Field Division in Texas has decreased gradually for four consecutive quarters, from a peak of 67% to 15% during the first quarter of FY2007.
- Mexican black tar and brown heroin are seized on a routine basis in south Texas.
- Over the past few years, the Houston Field Division in Texas has been identified as a transshipment point for kilogram quantities of Colombian heroin destined for the east coast.
- Small amounts of Asian heroin are encountered here and there in south Texas, smuggled in via courier or seized from the mail.
- Within the last year, there has been a noticeable escalation in the availability and purity of Mexican heroin in south Texas.
- Mexican black tar and brown heroin are seized on a routine basis at the POEs in El Paso County of Texas.
- Black tar heroin has been available in the El Paso County of Texas for some time from sources in the Mexican States of Durango and Chihuahua.
- Heroin is most commonly smuggled into Texas in secret compartments in private vehicles and concealed on persons. The heroin is normally carried across the border by couriers, however there is a developing trend of heroin distributors crossing the border with their supply.
- Heroin availability in Texas has shown a notable increase over the past five years as evidenced by the increase in kilogram seizures and a steady decrease in price.
- Enforcement actions have significantly disrupted the availability of street level amounts of heroin in Texas and briefly reduced the number of overdoses and overdose deaths.
- The heroin issue consistently reappears in Texas, due to the fact that heroin use is socially and culturally accepted in the area.
- Methamphetamine availability remains high in north Texas, and the pace of enforcement activities surrounding methamphetamine continues to escalate.
- Mexican manufactured methamphetamine is now taking over the market in the Dallas Field Division of Texas.
- New Texas laws went into effect in late 2005, restricting the purchase of pseudoephedrine products, resulting in a 7decrease in clandestine lab seizures in the Dallas Field Division.
- A significant amount of the Mexican manufactured methamphetamine transported to the Texas comes from Mexico, California, and Arizona through traditional means, such as passenger and commercial vehicles.
- The availability of both Mexican methamphetamine and locally produced methamphetamine in the Houston Division of Texas is escalating.
- Mexican methamphetamine is the main type found in the Houston Division in Texas.
- Mexican methamphetamine is transported to the Houston Division in Texas in multi-pound quantities directly from Mexico or from Mexico via California.
- From Houston, Texas, methamphetamine is also distributed to the midwest and the east coast.
- In Houston, Texas, crystallized Methamphetamine (ICE) is being sold in local clubs and is also being distributed by Mexican traffickers.
- Domestically produced methamphetamine continues to be produced in Texas by motorcycle gangs and independent producers in small batches using pseudoephedrine, anhydrous ammonia, red phosphorous, iodine, lithium batteries, or muriatic acid.
- There are numerous labs operating in East Texas, Corpus Christi, and Austin. Most of these labs are small, mobile pseudoephedrine labs that produce small amounts for distribution in the local area.
- Methamphetamine acts as a multi-pronged threat in Texas. It is available in multiple kilogram quantities in Texas. Most of methamphetamine seized comes from Mexico, but arrives in New Mexico from distributors in Los Angeles, CA and Phoenix, AZ. Methamphetamine investigations are especially 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 are popular in the area, especially in remote, rural locations in New Mexico. In Southern New Mexico, closer to Las Cruces and El Paso, the current preferred process is the "Birch method", that uses chemicals, such as anhydrous ammonia, to process methamphetamine. Use of the "Birch method" is believed to be an attempt by small laboratory operators to acquire non-controlled chemicals for production, in order to avoid law enforcement scrutiny.
- Recent intelligence reports cite increased seizures of more "Mom and Pop" methamphetamine labs in the El Paso Division of Texas. It is cheaper to produce methamphetamine for your own use versus buying it on the street.
- There were 78 meth lab incidents in Texas in 2007.
- Club drugs remain easily available in North Texas.
- The most often abused club drug in Texas is "Ecstasy" (MDMA).
- Intelligence reports cite the increased abuse of Ecstasy among 18 to 24 year old African Americans in Texas, particularly in the greater Dallas area.
- Asians continue to be involved in the sale and distribution of MDMA in Texas.
- Intelligence reports show an increased interest among Mexican traffickers to distribute and sell Ecstasy in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas.
- The Dallas FD in Texas is currently ranked 2nd nationally for GHB and Rohypnol emergency room visits and above national average in its emergency room visits for MDMA, Ketamine, LSD, and PCP.
- Most of the MDMA available in the Houston Division in Texas continues to originate from Europe, specifically from Belgium and the Netherlands.
- MDMA is typically transported into Texas via courier through airlines.
- Recent reporting from Monterrey, Mexico shows northern Mexico to be an emerging source for MDMA production for Texas.
- The availability and popularity of MDMA is increasing in the area covered by the Houston Division in Texas.
- Raves are a popular venue for MDMA distribution in Texas, in addition to clubs and gyms.
- The number and frequency of raves throughout Texas has increased.
- Other dangerous drugs that are easily available and transported through Houston, Texas include Rohypnol, Ketamine, GHB, LSD, and PCP.
- Several of the drugs in this category are more available in Texas, partly due to 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 El Paso County in Texas.
- The use of these types of drugs has not escalated in Texas, as in other metropolitan areas in the U.S.
- Methods of diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances in Texas continue to be illegal and indiscriminate prescribing and "doctor shopping."
- Hydrocodone, alprazolam, and benzodiazepene products comprise the majority of prescription controlled drugs abused in North Texas.
- Oxycontin has surpassed hydrocodone as the drug of choice for abusers seeking pharmaceuticals in the Tyler, Texas area.
- Hydrocodone, Promethazine with Codeine and other Codeine cough syrups, and Benzodiazepines (mostly Alprazolam) continue to be the most commonly abused pharmaceutical drugs in Houston, Texas.
- Oxycontin abuse is on the rise in Texas, with most illegal prescriptions being written by pain management doctors. In addition to this, commonly abused pharmaceutical drugs in San Antonio, Texas include Morphine, Dilaudid, Diazepam, Xanax, Tussionex, Lortab, Vicodin, and Ketamine.
- The major methods of diversion of these drugs in Texas continues to be illegal and indiscriminate prescribing and dispensing, pharmacy theft, employee pilferage, and forged prescriptions.
- The diversion of prescription drugs in Texas continues to be a significant enforcement issue.
- Illegal or improper prescription practices are the main source for illegally obtained prescription drugs in Texas, 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 Texas.
- Within the Houston Field Division in Texas, one of the newer methods of diversion of pharmaceutical controlled substances is Internet pharmacies.
- Mexican border town pharmacies remain a vital source of illegal pharmaceuticals seized in the Houston Field Division in Texas. Making this issue worse, is Texas's severe shortage of qualified medical personnel which forces state authorities to grant prescriptive authority to practitioners not licensed in other states.
- The transportation route through the West Texas/New Mexico area encompasses drugs coming into the U.S. and money being sent back to Mexico. These drug proceeds are difficult to trace and seize. Money is often laundered through legitimate businesses and money exchange houses. Financial investigations in Texas lead to the identification and seizure of assets used to facilitate drug smuggling operations. Currency seizures also show that New Mexico is being used to return drug proceeds to Mexico and to wholesale distributors in Arizona and California.
- Bulk currency smuggling is the most popular and effective means employed in Texas in transporting drug related proceeds to criminal organizations based in northern Mexico. It usual for state and local police officers to make seizures of hundreds of thousands or millions of "narco" dollars, headed southbound through Texas.
- Marijuana remains easily available and is thought to be the most widely used illegal drug throughout the State of Texas.
- Marijuana loads seized from private vehicles and semi-tractor trailers in Texas range from 230 to 3,636 kilograms.
- Multi-pound and multi-ton marijuana seizures transpire at all transportation terminals, U. S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP) checkpoints, and local courier service locations in Texas.
- Marijuana is easily available in the El Paso area of Texas, and is the traffickers' drug of choice for transshipment through the El Paso/Juarez corridor into the U.S., as well as for local consumption.
- Many of the Division's marijuana investigations originate from the BCBP checkpoints located around El Paso, Texas.
- The amount of illicit drugs transported through Texas by land, sea, and air is immense.
- Tons of drugs are transported to Texas and are delivered for local consumption.
- Poly-drug transportation groups are the greatest threat to Southern Texas.
- Most drugs transported through Texas are on their way to the major consumer markets of the Midwest and the eastern United States.
- Drug proceeds are then transported back through Texas in bulk quantities to Mexico and beyond.
- Illicit transportation groups in Texas, like legitimate shipping firms, move whatever product is contracted for by the drug distribution organizations for delivery to the consumer markets. These transportation groups have been targeted by the Houston Division in Texas and are the focal point of several of the Division's initiatives.
- Most of the cases for the El Paso Division in Texas involve the transportation of drugs. In addition, the division is responsible for responding to numerous Border Patrol Checkpoints located throughout the division's area of responsibility.
- Current investigations report that diversion of hydrocodone products and pseudoephedrine continues to be a problem in Texas.
- Primary methods of diversion of pharmaceuticals being reported in Texas are illegal sale and distribution by health care professionals and workers, "doctor shopping", forged prescriptions, pharmacy theft, and the Internet.
- Benzodiazepines, OxyContin, Prometh w/codeine, fentanyl, Tussionex, Lortab/Lorcet, ketamine, Buprenex, and phentermine are identified as being among the most commonly abused and diverted pharmaceuticals in Texas.
- 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. There are three DEA Division offices in Texas: Dallas, El Paso, and Houston. Combined, these three divisions have completed 41 Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) deployments throughout the State of Texas since the inception of the program. These cities are: Arlington, Wichita Falls, Tyler, Athens (2), Paris, Greenville (2), Terrell, Mt. Pleasant, Henderson, Corsicana, Ferris, Brownwood, Ft. Worth (2), Sherman, Texarkana, Grand Prairie, Odessa, Midland, El Paso (2), Galveston, Orange County, Port Arthur, East Harris County, Freeport, Kingsville, Corpus Christie, Victoria, Tomball, Nacogdoches, Humble, Huntsville, Smith County, Monahans/Odessa, Richmond, Montgomery County, Dickinson/Galveston County, and Marlin.
- There were 2,812 drug violation arrests in Texas in 2007.