Threat Assessments and Strategies

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program publishes a threat assessment on June 15th each year as well as county threat summaries. The threat assessment is an annual analysis of drug trafficking and related activities taking place in Oregon and Idaho. The primary purpose is to provide a basis for the development of the Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program's counter drug strategy by identifying and describing the organizations that engage in the manufacture, cultivation, importation, transportation, and/or distribution of illegal drugs or the diversion of prescription drugs in and through Oregon and Idaho. The counter drug strategy describes the Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program's plans to respond to the drug trafficking activities identified in the annual threat assessment

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2018 Threat Assessment Summary

Methamphetamine use and trafficking has increased in the Oregon-Idaho HIDTA and represents the area’s greatest drug threat, followed by heroin, controlled prescription drugs, illicit marijuana, cocaine and other dangerous substances, including synthetic drugs.

Methamphetamine continues to be widely used and trafficked throughout the region. Reported seizures of methamphetamine labs in Oregon remain low due to state legislation eliminating the ability to obtain pseudoephedrine without a physician’s prescription. However, crystal methamphetamine, or “ice,” continues to be highly available as Mexican drug traffickers import methamphetamine powder, liquid, and finished product from laboratories outside the state and from Mexico.

Production of heroin in Mexico has expanded leading to greater availability of low-cost product in Oregon and Idaho. Reporting from law enforcement indicates that heroin is a serious threat in the region due to the substantial rise in the volume of heroin seized and the number of new users and associated overdoses.

The threat posed by non-medical use of prescription drugs, mostly painkillers, has grown in recent years and parallels national trends. The rise in misuse can be attributed to greater availability through increased sales of controlled prescription drugs, liberal prescribing of opioids by doctors, and ease of access to the drugs through family or friends. Furthermore, people who are addicted to prescription opiates are increasingly switching to heroin because it is more available, cheaper, and provides a more intense high than prescription opiates.

Marijuana use, cultivation, and trafficking are pervasive in the HIDTA. Oregon’s Medical Marijuana Act, which allows for quantities of marijuana to be grown and used for qualifying medical conditions, continues to be exploited to facilitate illegal cultivation for profit. In addition, illicit manufacture and distribution of cannabis extracts, such as hash oil and marijuana wax, have increased in the region due to an expanding market for high-potency cannabis products that produce strong psychoactive effects. Greater demand for potent cannabis extracts has led to a higher prevalence of extraction labs and production-related explosions.

Reflecting national trends, cocaine availability and use remain low in Oregon and Idaho, but may increase in the near-term due to increased production in Colombia, a source country for the United States. Use of the powder form is common in Southern Oregon, whereas both crack and powdered cocaine is popular in the Portland Metropolitan region.

Synthetic drugs such as MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones, DMT (dimethyltryptamine), and fentanyl analogues are available and distributed in the HIDTA and appear to be rising in prevalence.

Consistent with national trends, Mexican DTOs continue to dominate the illicit drug market in Oregon and Idaho. These criminal organizations control the transportation and distribution of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, Mexico-produced marijuana, and marijuana cultivated from outdoor grows on public lands in the HIDTA. Caucasian DTOs control transportation and distribution of locally-produced indoor marijuana and outdoor marijuana cultivated on private property.

African-American DTOs are largely involved in mid-level and retail distribution of powdered cocaine and crack cocaine in the Portland Metro region, as well as distribution of retail amounts of crystal methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana within the HIDTA. Asian DTOs are primarily involved in the transportation and distribution of synthetic drugs such as MDMA, but also distribute retail quantities of marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine. Other criminal groups, such as criminal street gangs and local independent dealers, also transport and distribute drugs, but to a lesser extent.

During 2016, participating agencies within the Oregon-Idaho HIDTA identified 101 DTOs and 12 Money Laundering Organizations (MLOs) with foreign and domestic connections that were actively operating in the HIDTA; 9 new DTOs were identified between January and June 2017. DTOs in the HIDTA engage in money laundering activities -- the legitimization of illegally obtained proceeds. Bulk cash smuggling, money service businesses, and bank structuring remain primary methods of transferring drug revenues into, through, and out of the HIDTA.

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA counter-drug enforcement strategy is intended to be responsive to the threat indicators and to complement legislative, treatment, and prevention strategies within the HIDTA. Active community anti-drug coalitions in the HIDTA are an important catalyst for community action and prevention education.