Drug use has long been a problem in the United States and someone who wants to abuse them typically has little to no problem with finding them. Recently, we have seen a spike in opioid overdose deaths, this can be linked to the prescription painkiller epidemic and the illegal manufacturing and sale of fentanyl, a high strength opioid used to cut heroin that is roughly 80-100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl is used by drug cartels to increase profits, with little to no care about who might be consuming these drugs containing the highly potent substance. In the year of 2015 alone, there was a 50 percent increase in the number of people found guilty for trafficking drugs related to heroin. With drug abuse still on the rise, drug detection agencies have increased their efforts to crack down on drug trafficking. Unfortunately though, drug cartels operate like a business, and when one trade line is cut off they will always find new and ingenuitive ways of avoiding law detection.
Drug trafficking is a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of substances that are subject to drug prohibition laws such as marijauna, cocaine, methamphetamines, and heroin. For example, someone who is found manufacturing methamphetamines in his basement and later caught selling it to people on the street is also guilty of drug trafficking. Drug trafficking extends to any part of the illegal manufacturing process or distribution and sale of drugs that have been determined illegal and unsafe for the population by governing officials and law enforcement agencies.
Types of Drugs Being Trafficked
- Methamphetamine (33.6%)
- Cocaine (19.8%)
- Marijuana (17.6%)
- Heroin (14.4%)
- Crack Cocaine (8.1%)
- Oxycodone (2.8%)
- Other (3.7%)
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has found that Mexican drug cartels are still the biggest threat to America when it comes to the illegal manufacture or delivery of these harmful substances. Mexican drug cartels control a major share of the smuggling and distribution of drugs within the United States. According to the DEA’s drug threat assessment, there are six main Mexican drug cartels that are contributing to this growing problem in the United States. They are known as the Sinaloa, Jalisco New Generation, Jaurez, Gulf, Los Zetas, and the Beltran-Leyva Organization. The DEA has discovered that the areas mainly affected by the illegal drug trade are ones that lie closer to the Mexican border.
Top Districts in the US for Drug Trafficking
- Western District of Texas
- Southern District of Texas
- District of Arizona
- Southern District of California
- District of New Mexico
Due to its close proximity with Mexico, the state of Texas is the most heavily affected region. These Mexican drug cartels smuggle their drugs across the border and begin distributing them throughout the state. Interestingly enough though, marijuana is the drug with the highest conviction rate in Texas, due to the influx of Mexican weed that is coming across the border. Texas is also has the fourth highest rate per capita for drug trafficking sentences with an average sentence lasting around 77 months (about 6 ½ years).
In response to this growing crisis, Texas government officials enacted what is known today as the Texas Controlled Substances Act. It defines drug trafficking as the manufacturing or delivery of controlled substances. In the state of Texas, being convicted for trafficking drugs is a felony and considered a very serious crime.
Texas Controlled Substances Act
In Texas, you can commit three different actions that will be treated as a drug trafficking criminal offense.
- Transporting- When an individual knowingly transports drugs in a vehicle from one location to another. Any physical movement of drugs from one place to another is considered transporting.
- Distribution- When an individual knowingly distributes drugs from one person to another. Transferring drugs in any way to another individual is considered distribution, so if someone is selling drugs out of their apartment they can and will be prosecuted for drug trafficking.
- Possessing with Intent to Distribute- When an individual knowingly possesses drugs with the intent to distribute them to at least one other person. So if someone is found with a stash of drugs and has not yet distributed them, but had every intention to do so, this is also considered drug trafficking.
Under the Texas Controlled Substances Act, there are 5 different penalty groups for the severity of the crime based upon the amount of drugs found.
- Less than a gram- Being caught with less than a gram is considered a state jail felony, punishable for 180 days or up to 2 years in a state jail with a fine of $10,000
- Between 1 and 3.99 grams- Being caught with at least a gram and up to 3.99 grams is a second degree felony, punishable from two to 20 years in prison with a fine of $10,000
- Between 4 and 199 grams- Being caught with at least 4 grams up to 199 is a first degree felony, punishable from 5 to 99 years in prison with a fine of $10,000
- Between 200 and 399 grams- Getting caught with at least 200 grams to 399 is also considered a first degree felony, punishable from 10 years to life and a $100,000 fine
- Over 400 grams- Getting caught with over 400 grams is a first degree felony and is punishable from 15 years to life with a fine of $250,000
Drug trafficking is taken very seriously in states like Texas as the problem is more apparent. Knowing what to look for can help law enforcement agencies keep the streets safer for yourself and others. Some things to pay attention to are:
- A house that has little to no activity during the day, but frequent visitors at night, or random activity where people go in and out at all hours, never staying long
- Unusual chemical smells coming from a house
- Suspicious items such as improvised heating and cooling mechanisms
- A loud noise from a fan or visible extractor fans, especially ones in sheds or garages
- People not putting out their trash or burning their trash
- Windows blacked out or otherwise reinforced
- Recently rented premises where the tenant is hardly ever home
A new tenant willing to pay months in advance with cash
- Chemical waste that is poorly disposed of
- Observable exchange of items, especially when money is seen
- Neighbors ability to afford high price items without a job
- Finding disposed drugs or drug paraphernalia nearby
These are just a few of the indicators that someone could be taking part in drug trafficking near you. If you suspect someone of trafficking drugs, do not handle the situation on your own as they can be highly dangerous. If you see something, say something, get help by calling your local law enforcement. No tip is ever considered to be too minor.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a dependency on drugs, please call us today and get help from a rehabilitation specialist.