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Washington, D.C. Factsheet   PDF  Print  Email 

State Facts

Population: 571,822
Law Enforcement Officers: 11,954
State Prison Population: 3,000
Probation Population: 9,663
Violent Crime Rate National Ranking: n/a

Drug Situation: The nation's capital has long been plagued by a variety of drug problems, most notably the violence associated with crack cocaine distribution.

Street "crews" operating in open-air markets or on neighborhood corners continue to thrive in Washington, DC.

The city's large international population provides insulation for ethnic drug trafficking groups from almost every major supply country in the world and the suburbs surrounding the city provide a steady supply of customers.

2004 Federal Drug Seizures

Cocaine: 49.0 kgs.
Heroin: 33.8 kgs.
Methamphetamine: 0.3 kgs.
Marijuana: 2.9 kgs.
Ecstasy: 1,300 tablets
Methamphetamine Laboratories: 1 (DEA, state, and local)

Cocaine: Cocaine and crack are the most significant drug problems in Washington, DC.

Despite several consecutive years of decline in violent, drug-related crime, the violence associated with the crack trade in the city remains high.

Open-air markets situated along commuting corridors and within public housing projects provide dealers with a consistent stream of customers, either from the neighboring Virginia and Maryland suburbs or from within the neighborhoods they service.

Heroin: Although Washington, DC does not house anywhere near the number of addicts of its metropolitan neighbor Baltimore, the city is home to a large number of long-term heroin abusers who frequent various open-air drug markets within the city.

The city's heroin suppliers set up heroin shops specifically catering to a specific user population.

The markets located along commuter routes into the city peddle high purity heroin to suburban abusers, while the shops situated near methadone clinics and those co-existing with open-air markets tend to service long-term addicts with lower purity heroin.

In the District of Columbia, heroin is sold under various street/brand names and is packaged primarily in small, usually colored or marked, ziploc baggies.

Most of the heroin encountered in Washington, DC is of South American origin, but it is not unusual to discover heroin from other source areas as well, most recently Southwest Asian.

PCP: PCP distribution has increased in the Washington, DC metropolitan area recently, although availability isn't near the level of cocaine, crack or heroin.

PCP has a long history of higher-than-average levels of abuse in Washington, DC, but its introduction into the battery of drugs abused by young adult "ravers" both within the city and in the surrounding suburbs has contributed to renewed interest in the dangerous substance.

Methamphetamine Labs Seized: 2000=0, 2001=0, 2002=0, 2003=0, 2004=1

Methamphetamine: There is a very limited market for methamphetamine in the District of Columbia.

What demand exists is centered on the city's thriving rave and nightclub scene and among the city's gay population.

Most of the methamphetamine available in Washington, DC comes from sources of supply in California via overnight or regular mail delivery services.

Club Drugs: Washington, DC's rave scene has thrived for many years.

MDMA, Ketamine, GHB, crystal methamphetamine and various other hallucinogenic and stimulant drugs have been in demand and readily available in the District for almost a decade.

MDMA abuse and distribution is at high levels.

Marijuana: Marijuana is the most widely abused of all drugs in the District, crossing socioeconomic, age and ethnic lines.

It is readily available in qualities and quantities ranging from "nickel bags" of loose, commercial-grade product to hundred-pound quantities of high grade marijuana.

The use of marijuana in "blunts" has not diminished and is often observed taking place openly.

Marijuana is often sold alongside cocaine, crack and heroin in open-air markets.

OxyContin® and other Prescription Drug Diversion: The diversion of prescribed substances is an ongoing problem in the District of Columbia.

Various controlled substances, usually prescription painkillers and methadone, are in high demand and readily available.

Demand specifically for OxyContin® has increased but not to the levels seen in surrounding locales.

Drug-Violation Arrests: 2000=119, 2001=47, 2002=30, 2003=58, 2004=170

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 has been one MET deployment since the inception of the program, in Washington, D.C.

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 District of Columbia.

Special Enforcement Initiatives: The Washington/Baltimore HIDTA supports and assists in the funding of a multi-agency enforcement task force and an intelligence group in Washington, DC.

In addition, the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department has its own Major Narcotics Branch, and other drug and violent crime-related enforcement operations in place.

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