2017 Drug Trends in El Paso
Texas shares extensive borders with Mexico making it a significant location for drug trafficking primarily marijuana and cocaine. Consequentially, cocaine, especially in its crack form, is the biggest drug problem in Texas. Also as result of this shared border, it is estimated that several metric tons of drugs are confiscated in Texas every year.
Current indicators for methamphetamine are higher now than they were at their highest point in 2005-2006. Since 2013, methamphetamine has been the most frequently reported drug by forensic labs. The DEA, the Drug Enforcement Agency, has ranked methamphetamine as the 4th highest drug threat in El Paso, Texas. Methamphetamine seizures along El Paso’s borders have increased by 260% since 2013.
Prices for methamphetamine dramatically dropped between 2014 and February, 2015. An 8-Ball cost $400 in 2014 and went down to $225 in 2015. Current prices for powdered meth per gram run around $80 to $150. A kilogram is about $350 to $2500. An ounce of “ice” can cost as much as $1600 or $20,000 per kilogram.
15% of treatment admissions in 2014 were for methamphetamine, 59% were female.
Teen-aged and young adult heroin users are increasing exponentially. There has been a 352% increase in heroin seizures along El Paso’s borders. Treatment admissions for white users had increased to 59% in 2014.
Cost for heroin in 2014:
- -gram of black tar heroin = $60 – $225
- -kilogram of black tar heroin = $20,000-$80,000
- -gram of Mexican brown = $90-$100
- -kilogram of Mexican brown = $160-$1600.
Cocaine indicators are low as of now. Experts think this is because demand has increased in Europe while production has gone down in the Andes. Border students in cities like El Paso tend to use more marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, probably because of the city’s role in drug-trafficking. Cocaine ranked #1 in forensics reports until 2008 and, as of 2015, it had dropped to 3rd behind marijuana and methamphetamine.
Treatment admissions for cocaine were approximately 10% in 2014, down considerably from 35% in 1995. Crack smokers tended to be older people and African-Americans while cocaine inhalers were more likely to be younger and Hispanic.
Cost of Cocaine in 2014: gram of powder cocaine = $20-$150; ounce of powder cocaine = $300-$1600; a rock of crack = $10-$100; and an ounce of crack = $550-$1600.
There has been a noticeable increase in home-grown and hydroponic marijuana, probably due to drug wars in Mexico and increased drug seizures on the borders by law enforcement. The purity of marijuana has increased from 3.06% in 1995 to 11.8% in 2014.
Treatment admissions for marijuana were 68% in 2014, predominantly male, and the average age was 23 years old.
Cost of marijuana in 2014: Domestic = $25-$40 per ounce; Mexican = $10-$60 per ounce; and hydroponic = a whopping $250-$2400 per ounce.
An emerging trend in marijuana: People have begun substituting marijuana vapor for flavor vapor and tobacco vapor in e-cigarettes, also known as “vapes”.
Synthetic Cannabis is not detectable by most standard drug testing. As a result, it is growing in popularity as a substitute for drug users that are required to submit to regular testing.
Synthetic cannabis is sold under various names including K2, K2 Summit, Spice, and Spice Gold. There were only three varieties available in 2010. That number had grown to 30 varieties by 2014.
Synthetic cannabis does not seem to be very well known yet. As of 2014, only 7% of Texas youth, grades 7 through 12, had ever tried synthetic cannabis and 41% had never even heard of it.
Even though synthetic cannabis is not very well known yet, there are treatment statistics available. Treatment admissions for synthetic cannabis jumped from 156 in 2012 to over 400 in 2014. Clearly, these are the beginnings of an upsurge in synthetic cannabis use on the horizon.
Other Opiate (Not Heroin)
This category includes Methadone, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Percocet, Fentanyl, and Morphine among several other opium-based drugs, most of which are available by prescription across the country.
9% of treatment admissions in 2014 were for this category. The admissions were more women than men and ages 31-35 years old.
Confiscations by law enforcement vary quite a bit with non-heroin opiates because there are so many types available and use varies by availability.
Methamphetamine and non-heroin opiates show higher treatment numbers for women than men. The rest of the drugs show drastically higher numbers in male users.
Synthetic Cannabis is a rising trend.
El Paso has more trouble with heroin, cocaine, and marijuana than other drugs because of its shared border with Mexico.