The Changing Face of the County Drug Trade

Linda Williams, Willits (California) News, November 16, 2007

Mexican drug trafficking organizations considered by the US Department of Justice to be responsible for the large marijuana grows on public lands in Mendocino County are now the main supplier of illegal drugs in the United States.

These organizations do not limit themselves to the cultivation and distribution of marijuana; they are leaders in nearly every form of illegal drug distribution, especially in the Western states. The biggest Mexican drug cartels continue to be run by four main families and are known as the Tijuana, Gulf and Juarez cartels and the Federation. These groups have their roots in the early days of prohibition and the heroin trade. For many years, growing opium poppies was legal within Mexico although illegal in the United States.

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Mexican DTOs now bring in about 90 percent of the cocaine used in the United States, even though nearly all the coca continues to be grown in Colombia.

The Colombian drug cartels appear to have found the Mexican DTOs to be effective distributors for their product. In the year 2000, cocaine importation from Mexico was estimated at 500,000 pounds and by last year, it had grown to nearly one million pounds. The total amount of cocaine confiscated by law enforcement in either country during those same years ranged from 61,000 to 100,000 pounds.

Heroin made from poppies grown in Mexico is now the most widely distributed heroin in the United States with 20,000 pounds imported in 2000 rising to 60,000 pounds more recently. {snip}

As precursor chemicals for methamphetamine became harder to get within the U.S., labs in Mexico began to supply a bigger and bigger percentage of the U.S. market. {snip}

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