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Article Summary

Meth Transportation

Law enforcement reporting indicates that methamphetamine is transported from Mexico and, to a much lesser extent, Canada into the United States through federal lands; however, data regarding the total amount of methamphetamine seized on federal lands along the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders are not available. DOI reporting indicates that the amount of methamphetamine seized on DOI lands decreased from 464 pounds in 2001, to 244 pounds in 2002, to 206 pounds in 2003. Likewise, the total amount of methamphetamine seized on NFS lands decreased sharply from 114 pounds in 2002 to 22 pounds in 2003.

Mexican DTOs and criminal groups as well as independent traffickers smuggle methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States through remote areas of federal lands between POEs along the Southwest Border. Methamphetamine smugglers use a variety of methods to smuggle methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States through federal lands, including couriers traveling on foot, on horse, and in personal vehicles. The DOI reports that methamphetamine smugglers who transport the drug in private vehicles occasionally cross the U.S.-Mexico border into federal lands on illegally established roads.

Canada is not considered a significant source of methamphetamine. Seizures of methamphetamine on federal lands along the Northern Border do not occur with any frequency, nor do they involve significant seizure amounts.

NFS Lands

Forest Service reporting indicates that Mexican DTOs and criminal groups smuggle methamphetamine into the United States through NFS lands in Arizona, the only state with NFS lands on the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican DTOs transport methamphetamine from Mexico into the United States through remote areas of the Coronado National Monument primarily by couriers traveling on foot. Only one road runs through the extremely rough terrain in the Coronado National Monument, requiring law enforcement personnel to exit their vehicles and investigate or pursue smugglers on foot.

DOI Lands

In Southwest Arizona, couriers smuggle methamphetamine through the Cabeza Prieta Natural Wildlife Refuge, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and Buenos Aires Natural Wildlife Refuge. DOI reporting indicates that DTOs place stockpiles of food and water along smuggling routes on federal lands. The rations are intended for couriers who smuggle methamphetamine and other drugs in backpacks or bags across the U.S.-Mexico border into Arizona. Couriers transport loads as far as 35 miles through the Arizona desert en route to stash sites along I-8 and State Routes 86 and 286.

The number of methamphetamine laboratories seized on federal lands in the Midwest and Southeast Regions likely will increase in the near term. Forest Service data show that the number of reported methamphetamine laboratory seizures on NFS lands remained stable in the Midwest Region with 6 seizures each in 2001 and 2002 and 7 in 2003, but increased in the Southeast Region from 1 in 2001, to 11 in 2002, to 35 in 2003. Moreover, 2003 National Clandestine Laboratory Seizure System data reveal sharp increases in the number of reported methamphetamine laboratories seized in the Midwest and Southeast Regions between 2001 and 2003. The number of reported methamphetamine laboratories seized in the Midwest Region increased from 1,947 in 2001, to 2,540 in 2002, to 3,038 in 2003. In the Southeast Region, the reported number of methamphetamine laboratory seizures increased from 1,247 in 2001, to 1,906 in 2002, to 2,847 in 2003. The combined number of reported seizures of laboratories in the Midwest and Southeast Regions from 2001 to 2003 increased by 84 percent (from 3,194 to 5,885). Increases in such seizures were most notable in Kentucky (127 to 349) and in Illinois (207 to 421).

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