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Tennessee Factsheet   PDF  Print  Email 

State Facts

Population: 5,740,021
Law Enforcement Officers: 15,469
State Prison Population: 38,900
Probation Population: 40,889
Violent Crime Rate National Ranking: 5

Drug Situation: Geographically, Tennessee is unique because it is bordered by eight other states.

The interstate and state highway systems crisscross Tennessee's four major cities and traverse each of its borders.

These highways carry a very large volume of traffic and are a primary means of moving drugs to and through Tennessee.

As a result, the drug situations in the neighboring states have an impact on the drug situation in Tennessee.

Tennessee is predominantly a "user" and a transshipment state, not a major source area for any drug except domestically grown marijuana.

2004 Federal Drug Seizures

Cocaine: 571.0 kgs.
Heroin: 64.1 kgs.
Methamphetamine: 70.4 kgs.
Marijuana: 2,034.3 kgs.
Ecstasy: 10,539 tablets
Methamphetamine Laboratories: 889 (DEA, state, and local)

Cocaine: Cocaine is usually transported to Tennessee in multi-kilogram quantities from source cities in the western United States and from Texas, Illinois, Georgia, and California.

Hamilton, Davidson, and Shelby counties are considered the distribution hubs for the state.

Abusers of cocaine in Tennessee tend to consume the drug in crack form-a change from the preferred cocaine HCl abuse of a few years ago-making crack the current most popular drug of abuse among Tennessee residents.

Tennessee has seen a significant increase in the trafficking activities of structured Mexican trafficking organizations.

These structured groups respond to command and control elements in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Houston, and Mexico.

Heroin: Heroin use in Tennessee is limited to a very small number of long-time users.

The heroin trafficking situation has been very stable in the state for the past five years, though an increase in heroin availability was reported in Memphis recently.

Also, despite attempts by traffickers from Philadelphia to reestablish a heroin distribution organization in eastern Tennessee, no great change in the demand for the drug is indicated by other factors in Tennessee.

Texas and New York are the main sources of Mexican Black Tar and Southeast Asian heroin in Tennessee.

Methamphetamine Lab Seizures: 2000=248, 2001=498, 2002=603, 2003=822, 2004=889

Methamphetamine: The availability and demand for methamphetamine continues to increase throughout Tennessee.

Much of the methamphetamine consumed in the state is transported from Mexico and the Southwest Border area.

Clandestine methamphetamine labs can be found everywhere in Tennessee and are encountered almost daily by law enforcement.

Tennessee accounts for 75 percent of the methamphetamine lab seizures in the Southeast.

These facts are a stark contrast to the problem of a few years ago.

The labs that are discovered in Tennessee are generally characterized as small and unsophisticated.

These clandestine methamphetamine labs pose a significant threat because lab operators are frequently armed and substantially involved in the drug's distribution.

Southeast Tennessee has seen a significant increase in the activities of structured Mexican methamphetamine trafficking groups.

These groups control much of the methamphetamine distribution in the Chattanooga area.

Command and control for these Mexican organizations are frequently found in Dalton, GA.

There is anticipation of an increase in methamphetamine use in Tennessee as the drug gains popularity over crack cocaine use.

Club Drugs: Tennessee has a growing “Club Drugs’ problem, with MDMA (ecstasy), LSD, and GHB being the most common drugs of abuse. These drugs are frequently sold at Raves and have been identified in the cities of Nashville and Knoxville.

Marijuana: Marijuana abuse and trafficking is a serious problem throughout the state, especially in rural areas.

Tennessee is a major supplier of domestically grown marijuana. In fact, according to the Appalachia HIDTA Threat Assessment, Tennessee, along with West Virginia and Kentucky, produce the majority of the United States' supply of domestic marijuana.

Prosecution of marijuana growers in the state has been extremely difficult due to an intelligence gap.

Many of the domestic marijuana sites detected are so small that even if the owner/grower were identified, the U.S. Attorney would be reluctant to prosecute.

There have also been seizures of Mexican marijuana in the state. Marijuana is favored over other drugs of abuse by some in certain areas of Tennessee.

Other Drugs: Distribution of Ecstasy (MDMA) and LSD is on the rise, especially in and around the college campuses in Nashville.

These Club Drugs are abused primarily at "Rave" parties and are transported into the area from New York, Georgia, and Florida.

Diverted pharmaceuticals also pose a problem in Tennessee.

A special ARCOS report prepared for the Tennessee Medical Board showed that consumption of hydromorphone, hydrocodone, meperidine, and amphetamine was above average in TN.

Dilaudid and morphine are also mentioned as heavily abused drugs in Tennessee.

Drug-Violation Arrest: 2000=597, 2001=571, 2002=386, 2003=230, 2004=298

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 two MET deployments in the State of Tennessee since the inception of the program: Chattanooga and Clarksville.

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 Tennessee.

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