Mexican drug trafficking organizations are expanding their control of U.S. markets but appear to be struggling to keep cocaine and other illegal drugs on U.S. streets, says the new National Drug Threat Assessment report quoted by the Los Angeles Times. Cocaine remains the leading drug threat, though marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal substance. Profits from those drugs, along with methamphetamine, heroin and others, range from $18 billion to $39 billion for Mexican and Colombian trafficking groups.
Cocaine availability continued to decline in many cities, a trend the report attributed to Mexico’s battles with traffickers and to increased seizures by U.S. authorities. The shortages have pushed the price of cocaine up 41 percent since 2006, from $87 to $123 per gram. Some methamphetamine production appears to be shifting back to the U.S. after efforts by Mexico to crack down on the precursor drugs needed to produce the drug there. The study, along with a survey by the University of Michigan showing drug use as reported by high school students had declined 25 percent since 2001, was cited by the White House as evidence of progress. Critics say the administration has failed to curb the enormous appetite for drugs, through prevention and treatment. In 2008, the federal government spent $13.6 billion on drug control, with 64 percent for law enforcement and 36 percent for treatment and prevention.