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Georgia Factsheet   PDF  Print  Email 

State Facts

Population: 8,383,915
Law Enforcement Officers: 23,337
State Prison Population: 82,300
Probation Population: 360,037
Violent Crime Rate National Ranking: 20

Drug Situation: The state of Georgia is both a final destination point for drug shipments and a smuggling corridor for drugs transported along the East Coast.

Extensive interstate highway, rail, and bus transportation networks, as well as international, regional, and private air and marine ports of entry serve the state.

Moreover, Georgia is strategically located on the I-95 corridor between New York City and Miami, the key wholesale-level drug distribution centers on the East Coast and major drug importation hubs.

In addition, Interstate Highway 20 runs directly into Georgia from drug entry points along the southwest border and Gulf Coast.

The city of Atlanta has become an important strategic point for drug trafficking organizations as it is the largest city in the South and is a nexus for all East/West and North/South travel.

The entire state, Atlanta in particular, has experienced phenomenal growth over the last several years with a corresponding increase in drug crime and violence.

With Georgia bordering North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, Alabama and Florida, Atlanta is the base for several major dealers who maintain trafficking cells in these states; especially Mexican-based traffickers who hide within legitimate Hispanic enclaves.

There are 8.1 million legal residents in the state of Georgia, of which Hispanics account for over 5 percent of the population. The Hispanic population growth has been aided by an influx of undocumented immigrants, mostly from Mexico.

Intelligence currently indicates that as the Mexican immigrant community has grown, so too has the presence of Mexican traffickers.

This is especially evident in the Atlanta, Georgia metro area. Other cities in Georgia experiencing tremendous growth in the Hispanic community include Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Columbus, Savannah and Augusta.

Cocaine seizures have increased dramatically as a result of the Mexican organizations moving into Atlanta as have methamphetamine and marijuana seizures for the same period.

Most significantly, in recent years, the Atlanta Field Division has seen a change in the drug trafficking patterns in and around the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Whereas historically cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine have traversed the country from the southwest border through Houston, McAllen, Corpus Christi and many other Texan cities along I-10 through Louisiana to Atlanta, recent statistics show that traffickers are using this route less frequently in favor of traveling north using state highways.

This phenomenon is attributed to increased monitoring and pipeline seizures on the interstate highways.

2004 Federal Drug Seizures

Cocaine: 1,308.1 kgs.
Heroin: 39.3 kgs.
Methamphetamine: 83.9 kgs.
Marijuana: 1,045.0 kgs.
Ecstasy: 8.393 tablets
Methamphetamine Laboratories: 175 (DEA, state, and local)

Poly-Drug: Poly-drug Mexican drug trafficking organizations are the preeminent threat faced by Atlanta Field Division Office.

Mexican traffickers now supply kilogram quantities of cocaine HCl directly to local crack cocaine dealers.

Half of all poly-drug investigations within Atlanta Field Division Office target Mexican poly-drug trafficking organizations.

Mexican traffickers and Mexican drug trafficking organizations will play an increasingly dominant role in the importation and distribution of illegal drugs within Atlanta Field Division Office.

Recent intelligence indicates a poly-drug organization operating in San Antonio, TX capable of transporting multiple kilograms of cocaine and marijuana from Mexico to various U.S. cities including Atlanta.

A San Antonio District Office investigation revealed a large scale trafficking organization responsible for importing cocaine, marijuana, black tar, and methamphetamine into U.S. cities, including Atlanta, GA.

The Birmingham AL, Regional Office reports a business front operating in August, GA that is importing cocaine and heroin into the U.S. and Atlanta which has ties to the Colombian narco-terrorists linked to the FARC.

Cocaine: Cocaine and crack cocaine continue to be among the most widely available drugs throughout Georgia.

Bulk quantities of powder cocaine are usually transported into the state and then converted into crack by the local wholesaler or retailer.

Primary source areas for cocaine are Texas and California.

While traffickers utilize several transportation modes, prominent methods of smuggling are the use of private or rental vehicles and tractor-trailers with increasingly sophisticated hidden compartments, travel routes, and counter-surveillance techniques.

Colombian cocaine traffickers use the ports of Wilmington, Charleston, and Savannah as cocaine importation points, and these areas remain major transshipment centers for cocaine destined for Atlanta, other East Coast drug markets, and Europe.

During the past year, several organizations (Mexican and Dominican) have been identified as responsible for bringing loads of 200 to 300 kilograms of cocaine to Atlanta for local consumption as well as transshipment to other parts of the region and East Coast cities.

Heroin: Heroin availability remains stable throughout Atlanta Field Division Office.

Seizures of street level amounts of heroin attest to the pervasiveness and the availability of the drug.

Although heroin trafficking at times appears relatively low and stable throughout most of Georgia, there are regions where heroin abuse appears to be climbing.

The sources of supply reportedly are located in Chicago, New York, and at the southwest border.

The most recent domestic monitoring program report indicates that the predominant type of heroin in the Atlanta, GA area is South American.

The purity of the South American heroin ranged from 51.8 percent to 65.4 percent.

One exhibit was Southwest Asian heroin with a purity level of 40.5 percent.

The Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report indicates more Hispanic involvement in heroin trafficking.

Local law enforcement agencies in some outlying metro Atlanta counties indicate that heroin is becoming an increasing problem for their jurisdictions.

Methamphetamine Lab Seizures: 2000=54, 2001=59, 2002=131, 2003=226, 2004=175

Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine continues to increase in popularity and has become more prevalent throughout Georgia, leading to a significant number of arrests and seizures throughout the state.

This trend is particularly true in the Atlanta, Dalton, and Gainesville metropolitan areas.

Especially alarming are indications that the number of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories in Georgia has increased drastically.

There has also been an increase in the availability of ICE, in the Atlanta metropolitan area along with locally produced methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine is produced in clandestine laboratories located within the state.

Club Drugs: Atlanta is a transit city for ecstasy to other U.S. cities.

MDMA, GHB and Ketamine (Special K) continue to be popular and remain readily available in and around populations of young people (gyms, college campuses and associated “hang outs”) throughout the state.

LSD is usually encountered at school settings and is imported to Georgia from the West Coast via U.S. Postal Service packages or commercial express mail.

The wholesale cost of ecstasy, depending on location and amount purchased, varies between $3 and $15 per pill and the retail price varies between $8 (Atlanta) and $40 (Savannah).

Ecstasy is popular in the hip-hop scene and is readily available in Atlanta’s nightclubs, “Rave” parties and concerts which target the younger population.

An emerging trend among young adults is “candy flipping,” or combining MDMA and LSD, according to a local university report.

Marijuana: Marijuana, the most commonly abused drug in Georgia, is readily available throughout the state.

Mexico and the southwest border are the usual sources of marijuana imported and distributed in Georgia. The primary wholesale suppliers of marijuana are Mexican nationals.

Local outdoor cannabis cultivation sites are increasing due to the normally ideal growing condition in the region.

Because of DEA's eradication program and the recent drought, some dealers have resorted to hydroponic cultivation of marijuana.

Other Drugs: Diverted pharmaceutical controlled substances are widely available with Xanax® (alprazolam), Valium® (diazepam), Dilaudid® (hydromorphone), Demerol® (meperidine), and Percodan® (oxycodone) being the most sought after.

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.

Since the inception of the MET Program, a total of 436 deployments have been completed nationwide, resulting in 18,318 arrests.

There have been 11 MET deployments in the State of Georgia since the inception of the program to the communities of Columbus, Bowden, Atlanta, Marietta, Macon, Glynn County, Dalton, Griffin, College Park, Savannah, and Gainesville.

Drug-Violation Arrests by DEA: 2000=1,092, 2001=804, 2002=616, 2003=411, 2004=499

DEA Regional Enforcement Teams: This program was designed to augment existing DEA division resources by targeting drug organizations operating in the United States where there is a lack of sufficient local drug law enforcement.

This Program was conceived in 1999 in response to the threat posed by drug trafficking organizations that have established networks of cells to conduct drug trafficking operations in smaller, non-traditional trafficking locations in the United States.

As of January 31, 2005, there have been 27 deployments nationwide, and one deployment in the U.S. Virgin Islands, resulting in 671 arrests.

There has been one RET deployment in Dalton, Georgia since the inception of the program.

Other Enforcement Operations: The Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) was established by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in 1995, with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) as the administrating agency.

The Atlanta HIDTA’s mission is two fold; it targets both drugs and violence within DeKalb County, Fulton County, and the city of Atlanta.

There are 13 agencies participating in the Atlanta HIDTA, seven of which are federal agencies. There are three DEA special agents, one supervisory agent, two DEA analysts, and one supervisory analyst position allocated to the initiative.

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