The strategic location of Georgia has made the State both a smuggling corridor and a final destination for Illegal drugs. The States is served by extensive Interstate highway, like 1-95 that run between Miami and Network, known for wholesale drug distribution. Extensive railway network, International as well as regional airports, marine port and bus transportation network have also contributed in making Georgia a major narcotic hub. Being the largest southern city in Georgia, Atlanta has become a very strategic and important city for Illegal narcotic organizations. Most of the Illegal narcotics like Marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine that gets to the City of Atlanta come from the Southwest border of the U.S. and Mexico.
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According to the American Community Survey, half of 9.3 million legal residents of Georgia live in the Metro area of Atlanta. (U.S. Census bureau, 2008) The Hispanic population makes up 5 percent of the population. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the growth of Hispanic population has led to increased Mexican drugs traffickers (DEA, 2009). According to Terry Pelfrey, Georgia Drug enforcement agent, “As the Hispanics moved in, some bad apples moved in with them. But with so many illegal immigrants, it is harder to know who is who” (Torphy, 2008).The Mexican illegal narcotics distribution organizations have been identified as the biggest threat to the city of Atlanta. These organizations are the dominant suppliers of Methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and cocaine (DEA, 2009). Besides the Mexican Trafficker, there are other foreign illegal dealers operating within the city of Atlanta. This includes Southeast Asia, Caribbean and west-African drug cartels.
Federal Drug Seizure
According to Rodney Benson, the current Agent in-charge of DEA in Atlanta, 90 percent of the cocaine, 80 percent of methamphetamine and 50 percent of marijuana that is distributed in the city of Atlanta is supplied by Mexican distribution rings. The following tables show the amount of drug seized by the federal government through DEA in 2008 alone in the city of Atlanta. These figures do not include drugs seized by State and local police.
|Illegal Narcotics||Amount in|
Source, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Atlanta Field office, 2009
Marijuana remains the most commonly abused narcotic in Atlanta city and the larger Georgia State because it’s readily available. U.S. and Mexico border remain the primary source of marijuana. Mexican nationals are the primary dealers at the wholesale level. In the recent past, there has been increased outdoor cultivation of marijuana within the State of Georgia to supply the ever increasing demand in the city of Atlanta. Efforts by the United States Forest Service’s have led to seizure of thousands of marijuana plants from outdoor farms in southern Georgia. Such effort by the U.S. forest services and the recent initiative by DEA, dubbed Domestic Cannabis Eradication, have made drug dealer to move to Hydroponic marijuana. Cuban drugs dealers have been identified as the primary suppliers of hydroponic marijuana.
Powder cocaine and crack cocaine have the greatest negative impact to the residence of the city of Atlanta. Currently illegal narcotics suppliers are experiencing a lot of difficulty in getting enough cocaine because of the successive commitment by law enforcement in both Mexico and United States to fight drug rings. These efforts have reduced the flow of illegal narcotics to the United States and the effects are being felt in cities like Atlanta. Powder cocaine get to the city of Atlanta in bulk through the Southwest border. Legitimate shipments of foods such as vegetables and fruits have been used as cover load to hide shipments of cocaine. The law enforcement agencies have to keep up with the creative ways through which drug smuggler use to conceal illegal narcotics.
Abuse of Methamphetamine has increased rapidly since 2002 in the State of Georgia, specifically in big cities like Atlanta. Most of the Methamphetamine used in the city of Atlanta is manufactured in secret laboratories around the State of Georgia, especially in northwestern counties. To help reduce production of Methamphetamine, legislature in the State of Georgia enacted laws in 2005 restricting the sale of products that contain pseudoephedrine, a chemical that is used in production in Methamphetamine (Kamm, 2008). Mexican dealers have not been left behind in the supply of this illegal drug, which they supply in crystal form, known as ice in the Atlanta city (DEA, 2009)
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Heroin and Club Drugs
Compared to other illegal narcotics, heroin usage is relatively low, although supplies within the metropolitan area of Atlanta remain very stable. The city is a strategic transit point for ecstasy and Ketamine drugs. These drugs are popular with young people especially in college campuses, workout gyms and night clubs. In November 2008, National Drug Control agencies dismantled an ecstasy ring operating in Atlanta city, confiscating 65,000 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) pills that had been imported from Canada.
Drug Usage in Schools
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, 37 percent of High school students surveyed admitted to have used marijuana at one time in their life time. The following table shows percentage of students who reported to have used drugs.
|Drug Type and Use||Female||Male||Total|
|Lifetime Marijuana use||31.5%||42.7%||37.1%|
|Lifetime Cocaine use||12.9%||25.0%||18.9%|
|Lifetime Methamphetamine use||1.6%||3.7%||2.7%|
|Lifetime Ecstasy use||3.1%||6.5%||4.9%|
Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy
Effects of Drugs to the City of Atlanta
High levels of violent and property crime in the city of Atlanta have been attributed to abuse of illegal drugs. Like many cities around the U.S, drug abuse and addiction have led to breakdown of families and increased child abuse. The rate of spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS is usually high when the involved parties are under influence of illegal drugs. With high number of student taking drugs, as indicated by the table above, the level of school dropout is high; this has lead to declined quality of education.
The number of people convicted with drug dealing or use and sent to prison or put under probation in Atlanta is very high. This has put a lot of pressure to prison facilities with the State of Georgia. A lot of money is spent in running prisons and rehabilitating illegal drugs addicts. This is most likely to lead to decreased economic productivity within the city, hence compromising Atlanta ability to sustain its high national ranking as a major business hub.
Concerted effort at community level, linking families, law enforcement, media, youth groups, and schools is a good place to start in addressing the issue of illegal drug use in Atlanta. Such programs will reduce the number of people who are likely to become drug users or addicts. Currently, the “Call to Manhood” program is in operation in part of Atlanta city. The purpose of the program is to instill positive attitude and discipline to young people by giving them educational and career opportunities.
All Law Enforcement agencies within the city of Atlanta must continue to play an active role in the fight against illegal drugs use and distribution. Georgia Judicial System must also continue to play a critical role and team up with law enforcement agencies to ensure that convicted drug dealers do not return to the street.
Atlanta is a strategic and important city for Illegal narcotic distribution and consumption. Increased Hispanic population in the city of Atlanta has led to increased Mexican drugs suppliers. Marijuana remains the most commonly abused narcotic because it’s readily available. Cocaine remains the biggest threat to the residence of Atlanta city. Data from National Drug Control Policy shows that 37 percent of High school students within the city of Atlanta have used marijuana at one time in their life time. Increased drug use and supplies within the city have contributed to increased level of violent and property crime. The city of Atlanta is experiencing high level of school drop and declining quality of education. Concerted effort at community level can be a good place to start in addressing the issue of illegal narcotics in Atlanta city.
Office of National Drug Control Policy. Profile of Drug Indicators. Atlanta: Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse, 2008.
R.E.Kamm. “Atlanta is the new Miami—for drugs.”2008. Sunday Paper. Web
Torphy, Bill. “Mexican drug cartels set up shop in Atlanta.” Atlanta Journal (2008): 7-9.
U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey (ACS). 2008.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Georgia 2009. Web.