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New York Factsheet   PDF  Print  Email 

State Facts

Population: 19,190,115
Law Enforcement Officers: 93,446
State Prison Population: 64,302
Probation Population: 198,042
Violent Crime Rate National Ranking: 18

Drug Situation: New York City has long been home to numerous drug trafficking organizations.

The city’s large, diverse, multi-class population creates a demand that these organizations are more than willing to serve.

New York City also acts as the source for organizations that smuggle drugs to other East Coast destinations and to Canada and Europe.

Due to successful drug initiatives and enforcement operations undertaken in the New York metropolitan area, many drug traffickers are moving their illegal operations to the upstate region to earn greater profits, elude law enforcement, and avoid competition from rival drug groups.

2004 Federal Drug Seizures

Cocaine: 1921.4 kgs.
Heroin: 350.7 kgs.
Methamphetamine: 10.7 kgs.
Marijuana: 6073.4 kgs.
Hashish: 9.6 kgs
Ecstasy: 276, 879 tablets
Methamphetamine Laboratories: 53 (DEA, state, and local)

Cocaine: Colombian and Mexican drug trafficking organizations are the primary transporters and distributors of wholesale amounts of cocaine in New York; however, Mexican nationals have replaced Colombians as the main source of supply for multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine in New York City.

These traffickers smuggle multi-hundred kilogram shipments of cocaine to New York via tractor-trailers and containerized cargo and then distribute the cocaine in smaller amounts through many networks in the metropolitan area.

New York City based cocaine distribution organizations also serve as the source of supply to organizations operating throughout the eastern United States.

Most of the cocaine entering New York is transported in vehicles and tractor-trailers from large distributions centers in border areas (Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas).

Cocaine is also a significant problem in Albany and western New York State. Most cocaine distributors in the Albany area have connections to sources in New York City, but some Albany distributors have direct links with organizations in Florida and Puerto Rico.

Crack cocaine is readily available in economically depressed areas in all major New York cities, along with some suburban and semi-rural areas, and is occasionally a source of violence in upstate cities.

Such violence usually occurs when new dealers challenge more established dealers over territory.

Crack cocaine is typically transported in the form of powdered cocaine and converted into crack by area distributors. However, recent seizures of multi-ounce and kilogram quantities of crack cocaine in New York indicate a change in this dynamic.

Heroin: Heroin is readily available from Colombian and Dominican organizations operating in the New York metropolitan area.

Most of the heroin available is of South American origin and Colombia-based traffickers bring some of the purest heroin in the world to the streets of New York, utilizing the same distribution methods and money-laundering techniques they perfected in capturing the cocaine market.

In some cases, the same organizations are distributing both cocaine and heroin.

Much of the Colombian heroin is smuggled into New York by couriers and ingesters arriving at JFK Airport, on direct flights from Colombia, or after stopovers in Central or South America, or the Caribbean.

Colombian heroin trafficking organizations have also developed increasingly sophisticated smuggling methods, including use of cargo shipments, soaking heroin into clothing, and chemically impregnating heroin into plastic, which is then molded into common shapes. The heroin is subsequently recovered using chemical extraction processes.

Colombian heroin is also smuggled to New York via Mexico and then by vehicle from the southwest United States, similar to the cocaine route.

The heroin trafficking and abuse problem is increasing in upstate New York. Dealers in upstate regions often buy heroin in New York City and then return to their home areas via auto, bus, or train.

Currently, some of the high-purity products are finding their way directly to users who are often unaccustomed to the strength.

Methamphetamine Lab Seizures: 2000=2, 2001=8, 2002=26, 2003=73, 2004=53

Methamphetamine: While methamphetamine trafficking and abuse in New York State is a less serious problem when compared to heroin, cocaine, crack, and MDMA, there are indicators that the problem is increasing.

New York has a somewhat bifurcated methamphetamine market.

In the New York City area, the market is primarily for crystal methamphetamine sourced from the West Coast of the United States.

Use is not widespread, although it is increasing among some subculture groups, especially gay males.

The upstate market is primarily methamphetamine powder supplied by local clandestine labs, which are becoming more common.

Seizures of low yield, small methamphetamine labs have been increasing in rural New York since 2000, from two seizures in 2000, to 73 in 2003 and 53 in 2004.

Club Drugs: New York continues to experience high levels of importation, trafficking, and abuse of MDMA (Ecstasy).

Belgium and the Netherlands remain the main locations for manufacturing and exporting MDMA.

However, Canada has recently emerged as a significant source country for MDMA production.

MDMA is smuggled into the U.S. via body carriers, overnight mail and air/sea cargo.

Israeli drug traffickers initially dominated the MDMA trade.

Due to the large profits to be made from MDMA trafficking, other criminal groups are now importing and distributing significant quantities of MDMA. These include, but are not limited to: Dominican traffickers, Russian traffickers, Mexican traffickers, Colombian traffickers, Asian traffickers, and traditional organized crime groups.

Additionally, MDMA is distributed by poly-drug trafficking organizations and has become a mainstay in poly-drug trafficking in New York.

MDMA is destined for retail sale at New York clubs.

Almost all MDMA pills are sold with logos, creating brand names for users to seek out.

Other club drugs, such as GHB, ketamine and steroids, while available, are less prominent problems in New York City.

Marijuana: Most of the marijuana entering the New York City area, and some upstate regions, is of Mexican origin, smuggled primarily by auto/truck transport from the Southwestern United States.

The use of containerized cargo and mail/parcel delivery services, such as Federal Express and United Parcel Service, have also been noted.

Law enforcement agencies report a continued increase in the shipment of marijuana from Jamaica, transported and distributed by Jamaican trafficking organizations, as well as an increase in the shipment of marijuana from Canada.

Canada is a source for a significant quantity of primarily indoor grown marijuana entering New York State.

DEA Response: DEA’s New York Field Division works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to dismantle major drug trafficking organizations importing and/or trafficking drugs in New York State.

In July 2004, DEA/New York participated in a nationwide crackdown on Internet merchants of designer drugs, entitled “Operation Web Tryp.”

The three defendants that were arrested pursuant to the Southern District of New York’s criminal complaint operated an Internet website where they distributed designer drugs under the guise of “research chemicals.” If convicted, each faces a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.

In September 2004, indictments in the year long OCDETF investigation “Operation Lame Horse” were announced.

The defendants are charged with the importation and distribution of a List I chemical, ephedrine, which is used as a precursor in the manufacturing of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance.

During the course of the investigation more than 200 kilograms of ephedrine were seized. All defendants face a minimum of at least 10 years imprisonment and a maximum of life if convicted.

Operation Lame Horse was conducted by DEA/New York; ICE; USPS; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; the Lackawanna Police Department; and other DEA offices.

In October 2004, an investigation conducted by the New York Drug Enforcement Task Force--an inter-agency task force comprised of DEA/New York, the New York City Police Department, and the New York State Police--and with the assistance of the Department of Homeland Security resulted in a settlement agreement with Colombian airline Aerovias Nacionales de Colombia S.A. Avianca (Avianca).

The investigation and settlement agreement regarded repeated seizures of cocaine and heroin from Avianca aircraft at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Since September 1999, law enforcement officials have made approximately 30 seizures of narcotics at JFK from Avianca aircraft.

Nineteen of the seizures, totaling more than 75 kilograms of cocaine and heroin, occurred after the tightening of international security procedures as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The manner in which the drugs were smuggled indicated that some Avianca employees may have been involved in the transportation. Many of the seizures involved improperly manifested luggage or luggage that was not manifested at all and were placed aboard Avianca flights without going through appropriate security checks.

In agreeing to the settlement, the airline does not admit liability but must take steps to improve security procedures. In addition, an outside company, selected by the Government, will monitor Avianca’s security screening methods.

In January 2005, DEA/New York and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced the unsealing of an indictment against eight high-ranking leaders of the Wa State Army (UWSA)--a 16,000 member organization that controls a heroin producing region in eastern Myanmar (Burma).

The indictment was the result of a long-term investigation code-named “Operation Warlord,” involving DEA/New York and several branches of the Royal Thai Police.

The UWSA is one of the largest heroin producing and trafficking organizations in the world and produced more than 180 metric tons of opium in 2004, and transported more than a ton of heroin (street value of $1 billion) into New York and the United States.

Additionally, approximately 12,000 methamphetamine tablets labeled with the UWSA logo have been seized from mail facilities located within the United States as a result of the investigation.

According to the indictment, the defendants have engaged in the collection, transportation, and taxing of opium in the areas under their control; the manufacture and distribution of heroin and methamphetamine in the United States; and money laundering.

If convicted, the defendants face from 10 years to life imprisonment and $4 million fine.

Drug-Violation Arrests: 2000=2,684, 2001=2,389, 2002=2,210, 2003=1,425, 2004=2,121

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 19 MET deployments in the state of New York since the inception of the program, in Niagara Falls, Southampton, Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Amsterdam, Utica, Monticello, Watertown, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Mt. Vernon, Liberty, Hempstead, Spring Valley, Fallsburg, Geneva, and Kingston.

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 have been no RET deployments in the state of New York.

Special Topics: New York City is one of the world’s financial capitals, presenting numerous options for the movement and laundering of drug proceeds.

Private banking facilities, offshore banking, wire systems, shell corporations, and trade financing have been used to mask illegal activity.

Money has also been laundered through currency exchange houses, stock brokerage houses, casinos, automobile dealerships, insurance companies, precious metal and gem dealers, and trading companies.

Most recently, cyberlaundering and the emergence of e-cash provide an extremely expeditious means of moving large amounts of money.

Additionally, numerous large scale money transportation and/or money laundering organizations are active in New York, servicing national and international drug organizations. These transportation/laundering organizations routinely conduct multi-hundred thousand dollar “pick ups” of drug cash from trafficking groups.

The black market peso exchange and the “hawala” alternate remittance system are also used to move drug proceeds.

Despite the extensive financial systems available in New York, many trafficking organizations opt to physically smuggle bulk cash out of the area and/or out of the United States.

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