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Virginia Factsheet   PDF  Print  Email 

State Facts

Population: 7,187,734
Law Enforcement Officers: 22,966
State Prison Population: 52,000
Probation Population: 40,359
Violent Crime Rate National Ranking: 35

Drug Situation: Historically, the mid-Atlantic region has served as a thoroughfare for drugs, drug-related proceeds, weapons, and other contraband traveling along the east coast of the United States.

Virginia cities situated along Interstate-95 are vulnerable to "spillover" drug distribution from traffickers moving between the two major eastern drug importation hubs of New York City and Miami.

Cocaine, crack cocaine, and the violence attendant with the trafficking of these drugs are the most significant drug problem in the state, according to most law enforcement sources.

However, MDMA abuse and distribution is an already large and still-growing problem, seizures of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories increase every year, and Mexican trafficking organizations are making enormous inroads in the cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana distribution markets in nearly every part of the state.

2004 Federal Drug Seizures

Cocaine: 39.3 kgs.
Heroin: 0.7 kgs.
Methamphetamine: 6.3 kgs.
Marijuana: 59.4 kgs.
Ecstasy: 2,861 tablets
Methamphetamine Laboratories: 61 (DEA, state, and local)

Cocaine: Cocaine in both powder and crack forms is prevalent throughout the state of Virginia, in both wholesale and retail quantities.

Considerable levels of violence continue to be associated with the crack cocaine trade in urban areas.

Colombian and Dominican drug trafficking organizations in New York City remain the primary sources for most of the cocaine available in Virginia.

Nonetheless, many local traffickers are becoming more reliant on Mexican sources of supply in the southwestern U.S., North Carolina, and Georgia.

Heroin: The Richmond and Tidewater areas of Virginia both boast a consistent, long-term heroin abuse population.

Pockets of heroin distribution are present in other areas of the state as well, but the problem is less pronounced.

In recent years, "experimental" use of heroin by younger drug users was on the rise, but appears to have stabilized.

Most of the heroin encountered in Virginia tends to be of higher-than-average purity.

In the Norfolk area, heroin is packaged primarily in gelatin capsules, while it is packaged in small, usually colored or marked ziploc baggies in other parts of the state.

Methamphetamine Lab Seizures: 2000=1, 2001=5, 2002=10, 2003=27, 2004=61

Methamphetamine: Although still minimal, localized clandestine manufacture of methamphetamine has increased in Virginia every year for the past several years, with most of the activity centered on the far southwestern corner of the state bordering West Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky.

The Shenandoah Valley region contains the highest percentage of methamphetamine abusers in the state, and was the first area of the state to receive a huge influx of Mexican immigrants, whose presence encouraged an expansion of existing Mexican drug-trafficking networks.

In rave and nightclub venues, both "ice" and methamphetamine have become drugs of choice.

Club Drugs: Of the club drugs widely abused and available within Virginia, MDMA is by far the easiest to obtain and most in demand.

Once limited to abuse among teen and young-adult "ravers" from the affluent Washington, DC suburbs, MDMA is now a drug of choice among young adult drug users throughout the state, regardless of socio-economic and ethnic background.

GHB and Ketamine are also widely available but unlike MDMA, tend to remain within the nightclub/rave community.

Other hallucinogenic and stimulant drugs, such as the piperazines, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and PCP are also available, with their abuse tending to exhibit cyclical patterns or be limited to particular venues and/or events.

Marijuana: Marijuana is the most widely abused drug in the state of Virginia.

Most of the marijuana available in the state is commercial grade product, imported from the southwestern U.S.

Demand for high-grade marijuana, however, is at extremely high levels with source areas ranging from the pacific northwest to the New England states.

Outdoor marijuana cultivation flourishes during the spring and summer, and indoor grows are increasingly common.

Hydroponic indoor grows have not been encountered.

OxyContin and Other Prescription Drug Diversion: Virginia is one of the half-dozen or so states commonly cited by law enforcement and medical practitioners when discussing the national OxyContin abuse "epidemic."

Indeed, Virginia was one of the first states to record extraordinary levels of OxyContin diversion and abuse.

Although abuse of the prescription painkiller was initially limited to users in the southwestern portion of the state, that abuse has spread to include most of western Virginia and much of central and northern Virginia as well.

Sources for diverted OxyContin are located both within and outside of Virginia's borders.

The diversion and abuse of other prescription drugs has a long history in Virginia, particularly in the southwestern portion of the state.

Drug-Violation Arrests: 2000=844, 2001=637, 2002=645, 2003=597, 2004=569

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 nine Washington Division Mobile Enforcement Team (MET) deployments in the State of Virginia since the inception of the program: Manassas, Chincoteague, Fredericksburg, Richmond, Petersburg, Hampton, Prince William County, Hopewell, and Shenandoah Valley.

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 the State of Virginia since the inception of the program: Portsmouth.

Other Enforcement Operations: The Washington/Baltimore HIDTA and Metropolitan Area Task Force (MATF) both participate in and assist in the funding of enforcement groups in northern Virginia.

Northern Virginia is further served by an interdiction task force covering Reagan National Airport, Dulles International Airport, and the Amtrak train station in Alexandria.

Special Topics: The Annandale High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA)/MATF is comprised of two DEA task forces.

Seven local agencies and the State Police are represented.

On the federal level, the FBI provides three Special Agents.

Housed within the same office space is a joint IRS/Secret Service money laundering group.

Analytical support is provided by Intelligence Analysts assigned to the Washington Field Division’s Intelligence Group 31.

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