It’s easier than ever to score heroin, meth, marijuana and ecstasy, but the availability of cocaine in the U.S. is on a decline, according to the 2010 National Drug Threat Assessment released last week.
Produced by the Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center, the report indicates that the government is facing an uphill battle in the war on drugs. It anticipates that in 2010, most drugs will be more widely available than they were in 2009.
But the availability of at least one drug — cocaine — is diminishing. Since 2006, every national indicator — including seizure, price, purity and workplace drug tests — has indicated a decline in availability. The federal government seized half as much cocaine in 2009 than it did in 2008 — less than 20,000 kilograms last year, compared with more than 40,000 kilograms in 2008.
Marijuana is still widely available, in part because of rising production in Mexico. (Main Justice previously reported that the total amount of marijuana seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration nearly doubled from 2008 to 2009.) According to the report, the increase is partly because the military in Mexico has focused on anti-violence measures instead of crop eradication. Meanwhile, in the U.S., eradication efforts nearly doubled from 2004 through 2008.
Among the other conclusions in the report:
- The government expects drug traffickers may turn to the virtual world — where establishing the actual identity of players is challenging for both financial institutions and law enforcement — to launder money.
- The tactics drug traffickers use are adapting, with smugglers using both tunnels and “low-flying small or ultralight aircraft” to smuggle marijuana across the border. At the same time, the use of commercial airlines to smuggle drugs has been on the decline.
- Asian drug trafficking organizations were to blame for the resurgence in availability of ecstasy, but Mexican drug traffickers continued to represent the single greatest threat.
- Imprisoning drug users affects the entire criminal justice system, and substance abuse within the prison system is widespread.
- Criminal gang structures have strengthened and stabilized the drug supply in local markets, making it more difficult for police to disrupt.
The report concludes that the availability of most drugs will likely increase in 2010, primarily because of increased production south of the border.
A PDF version of the report is embedded below.