The Need For Minnesota Rehabs
In the state of Minnesota, there is a wide variety of drugs which are being abused in the state and Minnesota drug rehab centers helping stop the problem. The most prevalent and commonly abused drug in the state is Marijuana. Illegal street drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines are primarily being transported into the state by Mexican drug trafficking organizations. The distribution of many of the drugs are handled by Mexican street gangs like the Latin Kings, these gangs are the most prevalent in the drug trade in Minnesota. However, other street gangs like those made up of African-Americans and Caucasian gangs help distribute the drugs even more so in the state.
The cocaine that is found in Minnesota is primarily transported in from cities like Chicago and Detroit and also from the state of California. While heroin is not a significant problem in Minnesota, larger cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, have a higher rate of abuse than in other areas of the state. Club drugs such as ecstasy, GBL, Rohypnol, LSD, Ketamine, GHB, and PCP are also a problem in Minnesota.
The problems with Methamphetamine in the state has been on the rise in the past few years. While initially the problems were with abuse of the drug that was being transported in, it is becoming more common for the drug to be manufactured in the state. The law enforcement agencies in Minnesota have increased their efforts to control the presence of Meth labs which are not only a risk to those who are manufacturing the drug but to anyone who is in or around the area of the Meth labs.
State and national illegal drug abuse (including prescription drugs) information is provided by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). In the most recent survey, 8.24 percent of Minnesotans said they have used illegal drugs. That is slightly more than the national average of 8.02 percent. Additionally, 3.08 percent of state residents said they have used an illegal drug other than marijuana (as opposed to a 3.58 percent national average).
Most of the cocaine in Minnesota comes from California, Detroit, and Chicago. Most of the cocaine distribution and sales are controlled by Mexican drug traffickers.
Heroin distribution and use has not been a big problem in Minnesota, but recent reports show it is on the rise, especially around Minneapolis-St. Paul. Hispanic and African-American gangs are the main sellers of heroin.
Methamphetamines cooked in California are shipped to and sold across Minnesota. It is also cooked in small local labs that only produce a few ounces at a time. Emergency room records in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area showed meth-related incidents have increased from 112 in 1999 to 153 in 2000, an increase of 36 percent.
Club drug use, including GHB, GBL, Rohypnol, Ecstasy, PCP, meth, LSD, and, to a lesser measure, hallucinogenic mushrooms, has been reported throughout Minnesota. The public has become increasingly aware of the growing abuse and dangers of club drugs. This has been because of several well publicized incidents, including: five deaths involving Ecstasy, the meth-related death of a teenager, several large law enforcement cases involving GBL, and a law enforcement run in with a youth on LSD.
Marijuana is still the most common and readily available drug in Minnesota. The bulk of the marijuana used in Minnesota is shipped in from Mexico. Hispanic street gangs are the major distributors of marijuana in the state.
1. It is estimated that the total number of people with a drug addiction or drug abuse problem is 115,000 a year. Illegal drugs include marijuana/hashish, cocaine/crack, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or abused prescription drug.
2. An estimated 26,000 of the people with a drug addiction or drug abuse problem are between the ages of 12 and 17.
3. An estimated 43,000 of the people with a drug addiction or drug abuse problem are between the ages of 18 and 25.
4. An estimated 47,000 of the people with a drug addiction or drug abuse problem are 26 or older.
Use of Illegal Drugs Other Than Marijuana
1. In Minnesota, it is estimated that the total number of people who abuse illegal drugs other than marijuana in a one month period is 134,000. Illegal drugs include cocaine/crack, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or any abused prescription drug.
2. An estimated 24,000 of the people who abuse illegal drugs other than marijuana are between the ages of 12 and 17.
3. An estimated 41,000 of the people who abuse illegal drugs other than marijuana are between the ages of 18 and 25.
4. An estimated 69,000 of the people who abuse illegal drugs other than marijuana are 26 or older.
Illegal Drug Use over a One Month Period
1. It is estimated that the total number of illegal drug users in a one month period was 317,000. Illegal drugs include marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or any abused prescription drugs.
2. An estimated 52,000 of the illegal drug users are between the ages of 12 and 17.
3. An estimated 110,000 of the illegal drug users are between the ages of 18 and 25.
4. An estimated 155,000 of the illegal drug users are 26 or older.
There were 359 deaths as a result of drug abuse in Minnesota in 2007, 359 people died in Minnesota in 2007. During that same year, 618 people died from motor vehicle accidents and 344 were killed by guns. The Minnesota drug-induced death rate of 6.9 in every 100,000 of the population was lower than the national rate of 12.7 per 100,000.
In 2002 about 25 percent of property offenders in local jails said they committed their crimes to get money for drugs, compared to 5 percent of violent offenders. Among state prisoners in 2004 the pattern was similar, with property (30 percent) offenders more likely to commit their crimes for drug money than violent (10 percent) offenders.
Overall, 41 percent of the violent crimes committed against college students and 38 percent of nonstudents were committed by someone on drugs. About 2 in 5 of all rape/sexual assaults and about a quarter of all robberies of college students were committed by someone on drugs.
In violent crimes against American Indians, where use was known, 48% of the offenders were using alcohol, 9% were using drugs, and 14% were using both at the time of the offense.
Narcotics Task Forces
Since 1988, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Office of Justice Programs has set up drug task forces with funding provided by the State of Minnesota and the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. This funding provides operational support for programs that provide a mix of law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys to build strong cases and have effective prosecutions.
The Minnesota Legislature set up the Violent Crimes Coordinating Council (VCCC) to provide direction as it is related to the investigation and prosecution of gang and drug crimes and ensuing violent crimes. The council provides leadership and guidance to the various task forces operating in the state.
The council’s main focus is to come up with an overall strategy for the task forces to lessen the harm caused by gang and drug crimes throughout the state. In addition, the council works very closely with the Commissioner of Public Safety and has been charged with the following responsibilities:
1. Developing an operating procedures and policies manual to give direction to gang and drug investigations;
2. Identifying and recommending a qualified person to work as the statewide gang and drug task force coordinator;
3. Developing of grant eligibility criteria and a process to review applications;
4. Recommending gang and drug task force funding termination for those task forces not operating in a way that is consistent with the best interest of the state or the public;
5. Developing processes to collect and share investigative information;
6. Developing policies to ban the use of racial profiling to target individuals for law enforcement, prosecution or forfeiture actions; and
7. Adopting objective criteria and identifying traits to determine whether individuals are or may be members of gangs involved in any criminal activity.
Statewide Drug Assessment
The wide spread cooking of methamphetamine has continued to decrease, with most areas reporting significant declines in lab seizures since 2004. After a brief upsurge in 2010, the year 2011 again indicated a downward trend. The reduction over time is largely because of legislation aimed at restricting access to the ingredients needed to produce methamphetamine. Some regions are now reporting a trend towards smaller scale production of methamphetamine, however. Task force reports in 2011 assumed that most individuals involved in anhydrous ammonia thefts and with the buying of significant amounts of precursor drugs were involved with producing meth for personal use.
Despite the statewide reduction in the cooking of meth, it is still the drug of the greatest concern for many of the task force areas in the state. Increasingly, large amount of high grade meth are being brought into the area from the southwest U.S. and Mexico. Evidence of intravenous use of meth has increased in some areas. This all goes hand in hand with high rates of property crimes, child abuse and neglect, and the drain on social services agencies as families are more and more affected by meth addiction. Use by minors, however, has decreased due to anti-meth advertising campaigns.
The abuse and illegal sale of prescription drugs, such as OxyContin, has also significantly increased. Seizures and arrests have included involve both pills and fentanyl patches. This has been a particular problem on the Indian reservations in the northern part of the state. Both the White Earth and Red Lake Indian nations have declared public health emergencies because of prescription drug abuse. In 2005, prescription drugs were involved in 4.5 percent of drug arrests. That number grew to 14.4 percent in 2011.
Task forces have reported some major sale cases where large amounts of OxyContin have been sold. With an average cost of $1.00/milligram, there is a high profit margin on the sale of the drug. Illegal sellers are getting their OxyContin from forged prescriptions, pharmacy burglaries, paid procurers of the drug and “doctor shopping”. There has been an alarming increase in the number of minors and young adults abusing prescription medications. It is often taken from household medicine cabinets or individuals get it or buy it from friends.
In the past, increases in the abuse of prescription pain killers, including codeine, OxyContin, morphine, and fentanyl patches reduced the demand for heroin. This is no longer the case as investigators are seeing an increase in the trafficking and use of heroin. In fact, task force officials have determined that the abuse of pain killers lead to heroin use. Many users switch to heroin use because of the high price of pharmaceuticals. The lowest price and highest purity of heroin available is found in Minnesota. Heroin related hospital emergency room visits and overdose deaths increased significantly in 2011.
Past use of heroin by 12th graders in Minnesota is above the national average. Heroin arrests increased 412 percent from 2008 to 2011. While the majority of arrests have been in the metro area, Duluth and Greater Minnesota task force jurisdictions, including Indian reservations; other areas across the state are beginning to see heroin use and trafficking on the increase. Most troubling is that the user profile for heroin is mostly young people ages 16 thru 28.
Marijuana is the most commonly abused and readily available drug throughout the state beyond a shadow of a doubt. The chemical strength of marijuana has risen with higher concentrations of THC found in samples seized by task force officers. It is grown locally and is also imported from Canada and from states along the border with Mexico. Task forces have also noted that is it being imported from the medicinal marijuana states of California and Colorado. As far as local production goes, indoor marijuana growing continue, but at a lower rate than previous years, although the operations are more sophisticated than seen in the past.
Importing and local growing of marijuana continues to be a major target for task forces officers, primarily with high volume trafficking and the destroying local growing operations. In 2011, task forces seized over 6,000 pounds of marijuana and marijuana was associated with 38 percent of all drug arrests. There is a high profit margin got the sale of marijuana and it is often associated with violence. According to the state Drug Enforcement Administration office, an ounce of low quality Mexican marijuana can sell for $150 – $175. The lack of serious criminal consequences for growers and sellers makes it difficult to stop the supply of this drug.
While cocaine and crack cocaine continues to be a fairly common drug, it is declining in popularity for distribution and use throughout Minnesota. The amounts found by task force officers are lower, but the cost has significantly increased. Cocaine and crack cocaine are found more readily in the Mankato, Rochester, southwestern metro and Duluth areas. In these areas, the distribution and sale of the drug is often gang related. In Greater Minnesota, the main wholesale distribution centers for cocaine and crack cocaine are Minneapolis, Detroit and Chicago.
Other substances also presented challenges for law enforcement, including:
1. Synthetic marijuana products are showing up in many parts of the state and are becoming increasingly popular among teens and young adults. This substance includes plant material that has been coated with chemicals that are said to mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and are sold in head shops, at a variety of retail outlets, and over the Internet. These products reportedly can cause serious side effects. There have been an increasing number of reports from poison control centers, hospitals and law enforcement about the effects these products.
2. Mephedrone is being sold in both the metropolitan and greater Minnesota areas. This is a synthetic amphetamine. It is believed to be manufactured in China and is very similar chemically to the compounds found in khat. It comes in tablet form or a powder, which users can swallow, snort or inject, producing similar effects to Ecstasy, amphetamines and cocaine. In the USA, it can be legally sold legally if it is labeled as ‘plant food’ or ‘bath salts’.
In several areas of the state, synthetic drug abuse has risen rapidly. With the increase of use, calls for help from for both medical and law enforcement personnel has also been on the rise. The long term health effects of these drugs are still not known, but use of these substances often leads to suicidal threats or other erratic behavior that sometimes includes violent actions.
Methods used by state task forces have become more analytical and technology driven during the past several years. Many task forces have added or increased the number of analysts working with their units. Analytical work includes detailed research and examination of criminal patterns and information which allowed investigators to develop links between criminals, crime groups and criminal activity.
Criminals are using social media more and more to advance their criminal activities, recruit gang members and attract victims. In turn, investigators and analysts are turning more and more to social media to identify suspects and build criminal cases. Law enforcement is now using traditional media as well as social media for crime alerts, asking for of anonymous tips and for public awareness and education.
Dealers are increasingly using internet sales to push synthetic drugs and arrange shipments of marijuana and other illegal substances to local distributors. Analyzing social media has led to a working relationship between task forces and postal/parcel delivery personnel. Task force officers often make use of drug detection dogs to check out suspicious packages and the use of controlled deliveries lead to search warrants and arrests.
Summary of Drug Task Force results
In 2011, state task forces made 3,522 arrests for narcotics violations with 92 percent of the arrests being felonies. Of those, 196 individuals were prosecuted at the federal level. Of the arrests, 39.9 percent were for methamphetamines, 37.7 percent were for marijuana, 14.4 percent were for illegal prescription drugs, 15.2 percent were for cocaine/crack and 5.9 percent were for heroin. During their investigations, state task forces seized 18 meth labs, 50 pounds of cocaine/crack, 100 pounds of meth, 8.5 pounds of heroin, 2092 doses of ecstasy, over 10,000 doses of prescription drugs, 6,038 pounds of marijuana and 5,320 cultivated marijuana plants. There were 687 gun seizures. In addition to drug arrests, state task force officers made 417 arrests for other crimes.
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