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Quarterly Trends in the Traffic Report Second Quarter FY 1998

Drug Enforcement Administration
Houston Field Division



The Houston Field Division continues to serve as both a destination point and a transshipment route for all types of heroin from all source regions in the world. Southwest Asian (SWA) heroin is routinely hidden on board ships and occasionally is mailed into the Division by various groups including Iranian, Indian and Pakistani organizations. Southeast Asian (SEA) heroin is smuggled into and through the Division primarily by Asians and Africans who utilize couriers traveling on commercial aircraft. Mexican black tar and brown heroin are the most commonly found and abused forms of heroin in the Division. While all forms of heroin are encountered within the Division, currently, most of the SWA heroin, SEA heroin and Colombian heroin that enters the Houston Division is destined for other parts of the U.S.

SWA Heroin
Intelligence indicates that Pakistani cargo vessels are being used to smuggle multi-kilogram quantities of heroin into the U.S. at various ports of entry including San Francisco, California and Houston. Many Pakistani ships that dock at the Port of Houston have multi-kilogram quantities of heroin on board. The heroin is bodily carried off the vessels and delivered to various distributors in Houston and other areas. Multi-gram quantities of SWA heroin also are being mailed from India to Houston.

SEA Heroin
The Houston Division primarily remains a transshipment point for SEA heroin destined for other areas of the U.S. There is an established and well entrenched Nigerian population within the Houston Field Division. There is a significant Asian population in the Houston area, but the extent of their involvement in heroin trafficking within the Division is largely unknown. Intelligence indicates that many Asian traffickers also are involved in other illegal activities such as organized crime, gambling, extortion and prostitution.

Colombian Heroin
The enormous Colombian trafficking community that previously dealt exclusively with cocaine has broadened its marketing efforts to include Colombian heroin, which is now available in purities ranging from 50 to 90 percent, an increase in the purity noted from the past two years. Galveston Resident Office (RO) suspects more Colombian heroin is entering the U.S. through the Port of Houston. Intelligence continues to show that the Houston Division is primarily a transshipment point for Colombian heroin. The McAllen District Office (DO) reports that the South Texas Border area is now a corridor Colombian heroin destined for New York.

Black Tar/Brown Heroin
Mexican black tar heroin is the most readily available form of heroin found and used in the Houston Field Division. All Districts within the Division report that black tar heroin remains the heroin of choice for the user population. One explanation for this is that Mexican black tar heroin is the least expensive of all heroin forms. The San Antonio District Office has reported an increase in heroin availability during this reporting period. Eagle Pass reports that multi-kilogram quantities of Mexican heroin are available in its sister city of Piedras Negras. The Austin RO reports that black tar heroin is readily available in the Austin/Waco area. The Beaumont Resident Office has not seen any dramatic change in the availability of black tar heroin in the Beaumont area. The Galveston RO reports that Mexican black tar heroin is available in limited quantities; confined to small groups; and not abused by the majority of its residents. All Districts within the Division have active investigations targeting black tar heroin organizations.





Heroin Prices and Purity
Gram $250-$400  
Ounce $2,500-$3,500  
Kilogram $50,000-$95,000 30%-80% pure
SE Asian
Gram (Houston) $90 85%-95% pure
Black Tar/Brown
Gram $250-$400  
Ounce $800-$3,500 20%-70% pure
Kilogram $50,000-$95,000 44%-80% pure



The Houston Field Division remains a primary transshipment corridor for cocaine arriving from Mexico. Most of the cocaine enters through the various ports of entry via tractor-trailers. Smuggling also is accomplished through river crossings, and freight forwarding companies. Houston and El Paso are dominant transshipment points for multi-ton quantities of cocaine being transported from Mexico destined for points throughout the U.S. Cocaine in powder and crack form are the most readily available and abused drug in Galveston’s RO area of responsibility. Gangs continue to be the source for the low level street sales of crack and powder cocaine. They utilize underage children to sell their product because of the lax Texas laws. Cocaine is available throughout the San Antonio area on a continuous basis. Austin RO reports the cocaine is readily available in the Austin/Waco area in quantities ranging from grams to kilograms. Eagle Pass is reporting that the availability of cocaine is higher than last quarter’s reporting. The EPRO has uncovered an organization that is responsible for shipping 100-200 kilograms of cocaine to Atlanta, Georgia on a monthly basis. Cocaine is routinely transported into the McAllen District through the legal U.S. Ports of Entry by pedestrians, in vehicles, floated/ferried across the Rio Grande River, and airdropped into isolated areas by low-flying, private aircraft.

On both sides of the Texas/Mexico border, hundreds of independent operators provide drug smuggling, storage, packing, distribution, brokerage, transportation and financial services for major Mexican and Colombian trafficking organizations. Along the Southwest border, Mexican transportation organizations assume responsibility for the movement of the cocaine through Mexico into Texas. The availability of multi-hundred kilogram quantities continues to occur due to northern Mexico’s significant position with respect to Texas. Cocaine remains one of the most popular drugs of choice throughout the Houston Field Division.





Cocaine Prices and Purity
Gram $90-$100 40% pure
Ounce $500-$1,000 50%-88% pure
Kilogram $10,000-$22,000 75%-95% pure



The price of crack cocaine remains stable with a high level of availability. Conversion of cocaine hydrochloride into crack and its distribution continues to be controlled mostly by loosely organized, and often extremely violent, African-American and Latin gangs. Crack use and availability increases proportionally as it moves further from the Texas/Mexico border. Austin and San Antonio report crack cocaine is available and readily purchased both at the retail and wholesale levels. In Austin, a majority of the crack cocaine distribution is controlled by organized African-American gangs. Violence, including drive-by shootings, is directly related to these gangs. In San Antonio, the distributors are primarily African-American who operate at the “east side” crack houses located in various neighborhoods. The Beaumont RO reports that crack cocaine continues to be the primary illicit drug distributed within its area of responsibility and is more prevalent than ever. Houston remains the source city for the crack sold in Beaumont. The Eagle Pass RO and Laredo RO have not encountered any crack cocaine in their areas.





Crack Cocaine Prices and Purity
Rock $10 80% pure
Half Ounce (Beaumont) $400 unk purity
Quarter Ounce (Beaumont) $150-$200 unk purity
Ounce $50-$1,117 60% pure
Kilogram (Galveston & Beaumont) $18,000-$19,500 60%-80% pure



The availability of marijuana continued to remain high during this quarter, and it is the most abused drug within the Houston Field Division. Multi-pound to multi-ton seizures of marijuana continue to be commonplace. Marijuana seizures by DEA/HPD continue on a regular basis at all transportation terminals as well as from courier services. The majority of seizures represent traffickers en route to numerous other U.S. cities via Houston. The preferred method of smuggling remains via tractor-trailers and false compartments in privately owned vehicles. There have also been isolated instances of railcar smuggling with marijuana as the commodity of choice. The Beaumont RO has observed an increase in the seizure of marijuana resulting from the Interdiction/Pipeline operation on Interstate Highway 10.


Marijuana Prices
Ounce $80-$100
Pound $250-$800



Methamphetamine continues to be the most prevalent clandestinely produced dangerous drug in the Houston Field Division. Intelligence indicates that its demand and availability is on the rise. Domestic manufacturing and distribution come from smaller individual operations rather than the larger more organized groups of the past. The importation of Mexican-produced methamphetamine, both directly from Mexico and through California, remains consistent. The McAllen DO reports methamphetamine as an accessible drug in the Rio Grande Valley and is typically shipped into the area from Austin, Houston, or San Antonio, Texas. Although it is available, it is not the drug of choice for users in McAllen district. Methamphetamine is currently available on the Island of Galveston in ounce and kilogram quantities. The San Antonio DO reports an increase in the availability of methamphetamine and an increase of smaller labs that produce methamphetamine on a more frequent basis. The Eagle Pass RO reports an abundance of methamphetamine available immediately across the border in Mexico. Methamphetamine comes directly from Mexico and California as well as being locally produced. The primary method for manufacturing the local methamphetamine is by using the ephedrine/red phosphorous method. The El Paso DO reports that although methamphetamine use has not been historically dominant, usage may be on the rise in this region. Small clandestine laboratories continue to be encountered on occasion. Other than the chemists and their close associates, high school students seem to be the primary market for methamphetamine.





Methamphetamine Prices and Purity
Gram $100-$125  
Ounce $750-$2,000
87%-93% Pure
Kilogram $10,000-$12,500
90% Pure



The Beaumont RO continues to receive information from local law enforcement officers that the supply of LSD and ecstasy remains unchanged. Local night clubs and bars are the most popular locations where the drugs are distributed. College students and high school students are the recognized market. In Beaumont, the sources of supply for LSD and Ecstasy continue to be from the Houston area. It is unknown, however where the drugs are manufactured.

According to the Galveston RO, LSD and other dangerous drugs are available in limited quantities. LSD has been available in the San Antonio area with over 7,000 dosage units being seized. The LSD was brought to San Antonio from California. Rohypnol continues to be abundant in the Eagle Pass area where it is imported from Mexico.





LSD, Ecstasy, & Rohypnol Prices
LSD $5-$8 per dosage unit
Ecstasy $20-$25 per tablet
Rohypnol $1.50-$10 per tablet



Federal and local law enforcement agencies continue to report an increase in the amount of Rohypnol being smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. Large volumes of Codeine, Diazepam, Ritalin, Tylox and Alprazolam are being brought into the U.S. via the Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville Ports of Entry. These substances are being declared at the Ports of Entry by persons who have obtained prescriptions from Mexican physicians. It is not uncommon for these persons to have three to eight different controlled substances and a ninety-day supply of each. Within the Houston Division, Dilaudid and Fentanyl abuse continues at a consistently high level, however, Hydrocodone (Vicodin) is a drug of choice. Hydrocodone is a predominant drug of abuse, and accounts for 80% of the diversion cases being worked by federal, state and local law enforcement.

The San Antonio Diversion Group continues to see Dilaudid, Demerol, Percodan and Diazepam as the most commonly abused legitimate drugs in its area. Mexican pharmaceuticals continue to be plentiful in the area.


Last updated March 24, 2010