Intelligence collected by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration shows that methamphetamine use is higher in the Western portion of the country.
Based on data collected at arrests, 42.9 percent of males arrested in Sacramento, California tested positive for meth. In Portland, Oregon, 22.9 percent of men arrested had meth in their system. In Denver, Colorado, the percent dropped to 5.9 percent.
On the East coast, 0.4 percent of people arrested in Washington DC had meth in their system, and 0.1 percent in New York City.
80 percent of the meth used in the United States is produced and trafficked from Mexico. Between late 2007 and early 2012, the price of methamphetamine dropped by over 70 percent in the US, while the purity of the meth increased by nearly 130 percent.
(See the cost of meth around the world.)
Source (PDF): “National Drug Threat Assessment Summary 2013,” United States Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, November 2013, page 10.
According to an annual threat assessment report by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, users of heroin in the country are starting at a younger age.
In 2009, the average age when a heroin abuser first started the drug was 25.5 years old. In 2010, it dropped to 21.4 years old, and settled at 22 years old in 2011.
In cities such as Minneapolis, Minnesota, 19.9 percent of people arrested who tested positive for heroin was under the age of 21. Between 2010 t0 2011, the number of heroin deaths in Minneapolis increased from 16 deaths to 46 deaths. Arrests for heroin trafficking has also increased.
In 2010, a estimated 142,000 people tried heroin for the first time in the United States. In 2011, the number of first time heroin users increased to 178,000. During the time period of 2002 to 2008, the average range of first time heroin users was between 91,000 to 118,000.
(Heroin street prices worldwide.)
Source (PDF): “National Drug Threat Assessment Summary 2013,” U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, November 2013, page 6.
The winning purse of a cockfighting match in Los Angeles, California can be as high as $15,000, according to sheriff officials.
In 2010, up to 400 roosters were seized during illegal gambling raids in the San Bernadino area of California. In addition to the roosters, 43 people were prosecuted for running illegal cockfighting rings.
On average, about 100 people are arrested for cockfighting rings in California each year.
(More profits and earnings from black market activities here.)
Source: Sandra Endo, “Illegal Animal Fights on the Rise in LA,” My Fox LA, November 19, 2013.
In a study conducted by Quest Diagnostics, less than 2 percent of workers in the United States tested positive for marijuana use through workplace drug testing. Back in 2002, just under 3 percent tested positive for marijuana.
The fall in workers testing positive stands in contrast to the numbers of Americans who use marijuana. According to the health officials, 7.3 percent of Americans admitted to smoking marijuana within the previous month, an increase from the 5.8 percent in 2007.
The use of prescription drugs by US workers increased dramatically in recent years, according to the study. The use of Adderall and other types of amphetamines doubled between 2002 and 2012. Since 2005, the use of Vicodin by workers rose by 172 percent, and OxyContin use increased by 72 percent.
(See the price of marijuana around the world.)
Source: Roberto A. Ferdman, “Americans are smoking more weed, but testing positive less often,” Quartz, November 18, 2013.
Source: Charlotte Alter, “Study: Fewer Workers Using Cocaine and Marijuana, But Prescription Drug Use Is Up,” Time, November 18, 2013.
United States Federal investigators broke up a virtual kidnapping ring that was randomly targeting immigrants and telling them that loved ones were being held hostage.
The callers, based in Tijuana, Mexico, made up to 5,000 calls a day to numbers in the Washington DC area. That region was targeted due to its high number of Central American immigrants. The callers would tell the people that answered the phones that relatives were kidnapped, and that a ransom must be paid in order for the person to be released. The callers had no idea whether the victim actually had a loved one traveling, but simply played the odds that eventually someone will take the bait.
On average, the victims usually paid between $1,000 to $3,000. The money was sent to payment centers in San Diego and was then smuggled into Tijuana. Investigators state that this one group made at least $500,000 over six years.
In Latin America, cellphones are smuggled into prisons where prisoners are able to conduct these types of scams for their gang. Social media profiles are monitored in order to gain credible intelligence on their victims.
Couriers who pick up the money from payment centers are paid 10 percent of the ransom for their services.
(Potential earnings from black market activities.)
Source: Associated Press, “APNewsBreak: 4 Charged in ‘Virtual Kidnappings’,” ABC News, November 9, 2013.
Officials with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service state that a pound of rhino horns sells for over $5,000 pounds in the United States. From the US, the horn is smuggled into China and Vietnam where it is used for various purposes such as hang-over cures.
In Vietnam, crushed rhino horn was being sold for $10 per shot. The Associated Press reported that the rhino horn was more costly than cocaine in Vietnam.
(More illegal wildlife trade prices here.)
Source: Michael Wilson, “Rhino Horns: a) Increase Potency; b) Cure Cancer; or c) Bring a Prison Term,” New York Times, November 8, 2013.
In the first six months of 2013, there were about 1.6 million identity theft victims in the United States who had their federal tax refunds stolen directly from the Internal Revenue Service. The number of victims in the first half of 2013 was more than the 1.2 million total taxpyers who had their refund stolen in all of 2012.
Although the number of total victims of ID theft is going up, the IRS reports that the amount stolen is decreasing. Based on the latest available data, the US governent lost $3.6 billion in fraudulent tax refunds in 2011, down from the $5.2 Billion in 2010.
According to an investigation, many of the stolen identifications are used in foreign countires to claim a person’s tax refund. One single addresss in Lithuania was found to have received more tax fillings than any address in the United States. The address in LIthuania received $220,489 in fraudulant IRS refunds using stolen identifites.
Source: Patrick Temple-West, “Tax refund ID theft is growing ‘epidemic’: U.S. IRS watchdog,” Reuters, November 7, 2013.
Federal data from the United States showed that nearly 80 percent of people who used heroin in 2011 also previously abused prescription painkillers in 2011.
The rise in prescription drug abuse in the United States has lead to a rise in the number of people using heroin. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of people using heroin in the United States increased from 373,000 to 669,000.
Health experts state that when people become addicted to painkillers, the will turn to the black market to find pills to satisfy their addiction. If they can’t find pills, then they will turn to heroin.
Both heroin and prescription painkillers such as oxycodone are derived from opium. They both share a similar molecule that attaches to the brain’s receptor, which gives the user a positive feeling when the drug is taken, and a negative feeling when it is not taken. Thus, both painkillers and heroin are extremely addictive to users and are interchangeable when addicted.
Source: “With Rise Of Painkiller Abuse, A Closer Look At Heroin,” NPR, November 2, 2013.
In a national survey that tracks social behavior in the United States, there have been less men admitting to paying for sex in 2012 than at any other time over the past two decades.
Between 1991 and 1996, nearly 17 percent of men admitted on the survey that they have paid a prostitute. Between 2006 and 2012, the average number of men who stated that they paid for sex dropped to 13.2 percent. In 2012, the number was 9.1 percent.
Researchers and experts are divided over whether men are actually turning away from prostitution, or if they are simply less likely to admit it.
Some claim that with the rise of websites and dating apps, the ability of men to find partners is much easier now than it was in the previous decade. Another theory on the decline in paying customers was the fact that there are less men who have served in the military. According to data from the survey, men who served in the military were more than twice as likely to have ever paid for a prostitutes.
Other academic experts state that the survey could simply reflect the fears that men have in admitting the practice. As more states have recently increased the penalties in paying for sex, men could simply be more hesitant in admitting the crime, even if the survey is anonymous.
(Prostitute prices by country.)
Source: Emily Alpert Reyes, “Fewer men are paying for sex, survey suggests,” Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2013.
According to a marijuana eradication task force in Fresno County, officials has identified over 500 illegal marijuana plantations growing in the Sequoia National Forest and Kings Canyon in Central California in the first 10 months of 2013. Security officials seized nearly 2,400 marijuana plants, over double the number of plants seized in all of 2012.
Environmental and wildlife officials are concerned about the use of pesticides by the marijuana growers. Using a poison called second generation anticoagulant rodenticide (SGAR), the growers use the chemical to keep wild animals from eating their marijuana plants. A quarter teaspoon of the pesticide has enough poison to kill a 500 pond lion, yet marijuana farmers are using up to 50 times that amount on their plants. Officials has found two endangered spotted owls that have been exposed to the chemical, along with 6 endangered Pacific Fisher mammals who have died consuming the pesticide.
Source: Elyce Kirchner, Julie Putnam, and Jeremy Carroll, “Poisoned Parks: Illegal Marijuana Growers Leave National Parks Trashed, Animals Dead,” NBC Bay Area, November 1, 2013.