The Threat - Illegal Drugs
Disrupting the Market for Illegal Drugs
The global drug trade exacts a terrible toll on the American people, threatening their families, their finances, and their freedoms. The illicit drug trade also poses a serious threat to our national security due to its ability to destabilize and corrupt governments and to diminish public safety in regions vital to U.S. interests. The ill-gotten profits and nefarious alliances cultivated by the drug trade also facilitate the activities of terrorists and organized criminals worldwide.
The United States confronts these threats through a combination of law enforcement investigation, interdiction, diplomatic efforts, targeted economic sanctions, financial programs and investigations, and institutional development initiatives focused on disrupting all segments of the illicit drug market, from the fields and clandestine laboratories where drugs are produced, to the streets of our communities where they directly threaten our citizens.
Disrupting the Market at Home
Every day hundreds of thousands of State, local, and tribal law enforcement officers work in partnership with Federal agents to man the front lines of our fight against the illicit drug trade. The Federal Government supports these efforts in the field by facilitating coordination, providing intelligence and investigative information, and utilizing the unique authorities and capabilities of Federal agencies to press the attack against violent drug trafficking organizations operating within the United States.
Threat of Methamphetamine and Synthetic Drugs
Over the last seven years, significant progress has been made against the threat methamphetamine poses to communities across the country. Prior to 2006, small clandestine laboratories were an endemic problem in the United States that led not only to the spread of methamphetamine abuse, but also to increasing health and environmental hazards resulting from damaging waste.
Domestic Marijuana Production
Marijuana has long been the mainstay of drug trafficking organizations, accounting for much of their illicit revenue. Traditionally, much of the marijuana available on U.S. streets has been trafficked over the southwest border from Mexico while smaller quantities-but of a much higher potency-have been smuggled in from Canada. In recent years, however, evidence has emerged indicating that drug trafficking organizations are expanding their marijuana cultivation operations across the border into the United States, reducing risky border crossings and increasing profit margins by operating closer to the market. This trend poses a wide range of dangers, as violent Mexican drug trafficking organizations set up environmentally destructive grow operations on public lands, and as Canada-based Asian criminal organizations set up hazardous indoor grow operations in American communities in our northwest. The drug itself has become far more dangerous as well, with the average potency of samples of seized marijuana reaching 9.64 percent THC in 2007, a 151 percent increase since 1983, and the highest average potency ever recorded, according to NDIC.
Illegal Drug Profits
Denying Undermining the financial infrastructure of trafficking organizations has proven to be one of the most effective means to disrupt the market for illegal drugs. U.S. efforts to deny drug traffickers their illicit proceeds extend to efforts by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to block illicit access to the U.S. financial system and the financial services industry.