With the legal landscape for marijuana changing rapidly in the United States over the last five years, drug cartels south of the border are changing focus and tactics to boost business, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.
Four states — Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon — have legalized the use of marijuana in recent years, and the topic is up for serious debate in many more states in the country. Medical marijuana is legal in more than two dozen states.
With this shift, Mexican drug cartels have changed their focus to continue to bring in money from the drug trade, the report states. The shift has brought more heroin and methamphetamine into the country, rather than marijuana. Indeed, the amount of marijuana seized by U.S. authorities along the U.S.-Mexico border has dropped significantly in just the last few years. Since 2011, it has gone down by 37 percent.
In addition to the fact that marijuana can now be legally used and bought in four states, American-grown marijuana is considered more potent and higher-grade, according to the report.
What’s more, with a crackdown on prescription painkillers in many U.S. communities, a much cheaper $10 bag of black tar heroin may look more enticing to an addict used to an $80 single pill oxycodone.
Heroin use went down in many states across the United States after prescription painkillers grew in popularity. Now, it’s making a comeback in the U.S. drug market.
That comeback is being seen in the Houston area, as well.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said that last year, during a 12-month period, so much heroin was confiscated by law enforcement in a 17-county area, including Houston, that it constituted nearly 3 million doses, according to the Houston Chronicle. The report noted that that was a conservative estimate by law enforcement.
Last year, more than 15,000 kilograms of heroin was seized along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the report. That number was only a little more than 3,000 kilograms in 2009.
There are an estimated 600,000 heroin users in the United States. That number has undergone a threefold increase in the past five years.
Heroin Use in Houston
Heroin use is up 300% in the Houston area alone. There has been a 400% rise in the deaths of young people in rural and suburban towns all over the state of Texas.
With this increase, there has been special attention paid to heroin in law enforcement. Those convicted of possession and/or selling face stiff penalties as a result. Possession penalties range from 2 years in jail with up to a $10,000 fine to 10 to 99 years in the state penitentiary with up to a $100,000 fine.
Arrested for heroin possession?
If you’ve been arrested in connection with possession of heroin, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates can provide you the defense you need in the wake of such a serious charge. Contact our Houston law office today by calling 713-659-0909.