Within the four counties that encompass the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (i.e., Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties), virtually all types of narcotics are manufactured, imported and distributed for regional, national and international consumption. The Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area is one of a few in the United States that serves as a national-level drug distribution center for all four major drugs of abuse (i.e., Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Heroin and Marijuana), as well as for the distribution of MDMA (Ecstasy) and PCP. In addition, the Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area has seen a proliferation and quite literally explosions of Butane Hash/Honey Oil (BHO) Labs due to overnight sensation of the utilization of the “electronic cigarette” (e-cig or e-cigarette), or personal vaporizer (PV), for the consumption of Hash or Honey Oil cannabis products.
Additionally, drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and criminal groups based in the Los Angeles HIDTA region are increasing their control over illicit drug distribution in many drug markets, including most recently in East Coast drug markets that have long been controlled by other trafficking groups, which further enhances the Los Angeles HIDTA's role as a national-level drug distribution center. As a primary activity, the traffickers use the highways to transport most of the illicit drugs into, across and out of the country. The Los Angeles HIDTA region is a recognized national-level source area for foreign-produced methamphetamine.
Land is the most common means of transporting illegal narcotics within our region and beyond. Of the 290 identified organizations, 289 use land conveyances to transport their product. Almost 8,000 miles of freeway and 27,000 miles of non-freeway arteries link our four county (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino) region together. Additionally, 4 major interstate highways connect the LA-HIDTA area with Mexico, all of the Southwest border and Gulf of Mexico states to the south, Canada to the north and all of the states to the east.
Of the 290 organizations identified, 12 facilitate their activities through the use of air conveyances. The FAA recognizes 5 international, 94 municipal and 3 seaplane airports within our geographic region. Commercial aircraft constantly pose a significant threat to the LA-HIDTA area. Numbers of daily flights land directly in our region that originate from drug source countries in both Central and South America, as well as the Pacific Rim.
The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the 4th busiest passenger airport in the world and 2nd busiest in the United States. It served over 84.9 million passengers in CY 2017 (a 4.8% increase over CY 2016 total), which included approximately 25 (29%) million international travelers, many from drug source countries. It is also the 5th busiest in the United States and 14th busiest in the world in terms of air cargo shipments, processing over 2.2 million metric tons, valued at over $101.4 billion, in CY 2017.
Maritime smuggling presents a significant concern to the LA-HIDTA. The counties of Los Angeles and Orange have the Pacific Ocean as their western border. Miles of pristine shoreline, Mexican waters some 90 miles to the south, numerous private harbors and international ports makes our region a prime consideration for maritime smuggling of illicit narcotics.
The combined Los Angeles / Long Beach commercial seaport is rated as the 10th busiest port complex by container volume and 2nd busiest port in the United States. The seaport processed 342.2 million metric revenue tons of cargo in CY 2017. During CY 2017, three (3) organizations were identified as using maritime conveyances, but it is believed that many more operate with this method of transportation.