Crime Prevention Council report #2: Drug-trend surprises

Some of these factoids might surprise you; they surprised us, when we heard the infobursts presented by the featured guest at last night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, Steve Freng, who is a manager for the Northwest HIDTA (pronounced HIGH-tuh – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area). Read on for those infobursts, in bullet-point form:

*HIDTA is the name for various regions around the US identified as “critical centers of drug production, manufacturing, importing, distributing, chronic consuming”

*The Northwest HIDTA includes 14 contiguous counties along the I-5 corridor

*The job of the people who work for it: To reduce the demand for drugs (which in turn theoretically will reduce drug-related crime) by “supporting effective prevention and treatment programs thrughut the region” – combining a “public-safety approach with a public-health approach”

*In King County, HIDTA partners for prevention programs with Seattle Neighborhood Group (SNGi), which also provides staff to assist groups like West Seattle Crime Prevention Council and South Delridge/White Center Community Safety Coalition (among others)

*The “drug threats” in this region are marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and prescription opiates; the Northwest has the dubious honor of having been the first region with five “threats”

*Over the past decade, the biggest “threat” has changed from heroin to meth – but authorities are most concerned, looking ahead, with prescription opiate abuse (oxycontin, Vicodin, etc.), particularly among juveniles

*Where drugs are produced is changing – “Ecstasy” is produced in “large, sophisticated” labs in British Columbia, whereas it used to be produced in Europe; meth is now produced in “superlabs” in California and Mexico much more than in the smaller labs that used to be prevalent around here, although Pierce County is still a hot spot

*Top drug that sends people to emergency rooms: Cocaine (2006 is the most recent official data)

*Top drug that sends people into treatment: Meth (almost half the 20,000-plus people in our state who entered treatment in 2006 were meth abusers)

*Top drug that sends juveniles into treatment: Marijuana (Freng noted, “What’s out there now is not what was out there 30 years ago – that was ditchweed, 3 percent THC [active ingredient], now that can be upwards of 20 percent.”)

*Top drug for overdose deaths: Prescription opiates, followed by cocaine, opiates/heroin, alcohol

*Cocaine is the “only drug for which Caucasians do not represent the majority of treatment admissions in Washington state”

*Drug “commerce” continues to grow around the world – between the ’80s and the ’90s, the number of countries with this kind of “commerce” went from 120 to 170 – current annual value of illicit drug sales: $321 billion

*If you want to tip authorities anonymously to a meth lab or other meth-related problem, there’s an anonymous hotline at 888/609-6384; Freng can be reached at or 206/352-3603; the NW HIDTA website is at

10 Replies to "Crime Prevention Council report #2: Drug-trend surprises"

  • some guy November 20, 2008 (10:10 am)

    Wow. Didn’t know there was so MUCH Crazy drug distribution in this area. meth, cocaine, heroine, ecstasy, these are some dangerous substances associated with organized crime and messed up addicts and stuff. As for Oxycontin, so many people get hooked on this stuff after being prescribed for something like a back injury or something. They eventually get cut off and end up having to buy it on the street. Thanks for that one medical establishment. They should however legalize marijuana. Although kids should definitely not be smoking it. The stuff will mess up your development. Darn high school kids trying to be “cool” like their older brothers and rapper idols. Best to wait till your older. Enjoy herb!

  • NIMBY nulu November 20, 2008 (10:16 am)

    Infobursts??? Drug Threats – what does this mean?
    Why is marijuana on the “drug threat” list, but the fourth largest drug for “drug overdose deaths” – alcohol, is not on that list? Illegal alcohol consumption also kills many more in auto accidents. Where is our concern? Where is tobacco?
    Who is responsible for the highest threat, highest death rate drug? Prescription opiates are not manufactured by clandestine labs in Pierce County. They are legally manufactured by conglomerate drug manufacturers and sold through legal channels. They require prescriptions. They are the only drugs on the threat list that should be easy to control. Why are they not?
    “*Top drug that sends juveniles into treatment: marijuana.” This one is misleading because juveniles caught with pot are commonly sent to treatment by our juvenile court system as punishment. And if the current evil weed is six times as powerful in THC, what does that mean? Are there six times as many deaths attributed to it?
    When he talks about the “drug commerce”, the figures are much to low unless you factor in the enormous and permanent anti drug industry, the cost of the decades long “War on Drugs”, treatment centers and the establishment of secure jobs such as Mr. Freng’s.

  • marty November 20, 2008 (11:11 am)

    *Cocaine is the “only drug for which Caucasians do not represent the majority of treatment admissions in Washington state”

    What a misleading statement!! Is this supposed to trick us into believing that minorities do not have a larger percentage of drug users than whites? Let’s try telling the truth.

  • JanS November 20, 2008 (1:05 pm)

    Marty…are you saying that you believe the majority of drug abusers are in the minorities, i.e., African American, Latino, and Asian? Do you have numbers to back that up? Or is this something that you simply imagine? That it can’t be white folk who are abusing drugs? Just curious why you’d say what you did.

  • marty November 20, 2008 (1:45 pm)

    JasS: Most drug users are white because most people are white. There is actually very little difference in drug use between Whites, Blacks, Latinos and American Indians. Asians use a a much lower rate.

    This link shows Whites use drugs more “ever in their lifetime” and Blacks use drugs more “in the past year” or “in the past month”. This seems to indicate more experimenting by Whites and more long-term usage by Blacks.

    White people are using drugs WAY too much, my point was that the wording in the artile seemed to indicate Whites were using more than other racial groups.

  • WSB November 20, 2008 (1:52 pm)

    I quoted the presenter on exactly what he said. It was the only racial reference he made but it seemed notable. The line seems pretty clear to me. If you want to flip it another way: Caucasians represent the majority of people admitted for treatment of every drug EXCEPT cocaine. I will contact him for a full racial breakout in other areas if you are interested, or you are welcome to do the same – he indicated that he answers his phone and e-mail quite attentively – TR

  • marty November 20, 2008 (3:36 pm)

    Thanks for the offer, but I was only trying to make a point about how data use can be misleading. I just finished spending over an hour looking at data and you can make it say whatever you want. I guess I already knew that.

  • Mixed Proud Heritage November 20, 2008 (8:12 pm)

    Before people continue to imply racism or reverse racism or claim “truth” from the aforementioned quote, please note that the quote in question above does not include the term “DRUG USERS”anywhere. It says “represents the majority of TREATMENT ADMISSIONS in Washington state”.
    People enter treatment or, do not enter treatment for a variety of reasons including money (both to go in and to stay out of it). We have a complex social service and court structure and we have complex societal values. This statement could mean lots of different things and would need analysis to draw any scientific conclusions with societal implications -if at all.
    I admit that this is a poorly worded sentence which promotes confusion – I definitely had to read it a couple times to comprehend what the author was conveying.
    Treatment programs must keep records regarding who they are offering service to in order to get and keep funding. Apparently, the records are currently showing that the majority of persons who CHECK IN (and only those who check in) for drug treatment programs not involving Cocaine list themselves as Caucasian.
    That’s it. That’s all we know. Maybe even wonder about the ‘what exactly does this mean?’- but this article is supposed to be about trends and without a great deal more information surrounding this (any) statistic as well as expertise in analysis, drawing conclusions from such a statement or trend would not be and is not responsible.
    One addendum, race in this country is quickly losing its conventional definitions. Tiger Woods and Barack Obama along with millions of Americans have a legitimate option on most forms that ask for race. Mr. Obama certainly has as much right to list himself (50%) as Caucasian as he does to list himself as African American or he can choose to list himself as mixed if it is offered on any given form. Society or media outlets have chosen to call these men African American and celebrate a wonderful, proud heritage; but what we don’t know is do they (and millions of others who have combined heritage through both race and culture) define themselves in the same way? Is a single racial definition appropriate in 2008 unless chosen by the individual? Does the narrowness of definition by a single race in itself not deny them the claim of relationship and heritage from the other 50% of their relatives?
    Many more questions and challenges will face us in this new century. May we be thoughtful and inclusive rather than divisive in our answers as we grapple with what is sure to be continuous change on the road ahead.

  • WSB November 20, 2008 (9:03 pm)

    MPH, thanks for your comment. I personally wish we could fast-forward to that time someday in the future when the color of our skin will be no more apropos to anything than the color of our eyes, hair, whatever. I am white FWIW but happened to spend several formative years living in a white-minority city (Honolulu) so I’ve had different personal perspectives on the whole issue. Anyway, back to the original subject here. As I said, this was a public presentation at a public meeting and one of my missions in covering so many such events for WSB is to relay as much of the information as possible, and that happened to be one of the bits of information the speaker shared. I have looked to see if anything resembling his presentation is available online – only thing I have found so far is 2007 drug trends in King County, which also seem to suggest that cocaine abuse hits the African-American community particularly hard:
    >>Many cocaine involved deaths are in combination with heroin and African Americans are disproportionately represented in
    cocaine involved drug caused deaths.<< so perhaps that is the sort of point the gentleman was trying to make. Reference for the above, by the way:

  • Lex December 9, 2008 (4:40 pm)

    Oh My Gosh, who give (*&(&(* about what race uses what drug..Who cares about the data as its captured. It all says the same thing we have a HUGE drug problem in this nation. I think we need to stop making comparison as to which racial group has more drug problems..threats etc.. this is a problem that affects us all as a society. This is why were are in the hell now in our society no one wants to take on the problem holistically. Everyone one wants to point blame instead of coming up with solutions. Our children are getting hooked on these poisons and are getting killed. WAKE UP people!! Lets come up with solutions and support law enforcement with this epidemic. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and concentrate on what is happening in your home. Pay close attention to your children and their friends. look for behavorial changes and for pete’s sake lock up your meds. By giving kids easy access to your meds you are supporting their habits and are part of the problem. Grow a pair and start being parents to your children and not friends. I do my part to ensure that I’m raising children that will add value to society. Shouldn’t that be the objetive for every parent. So pay less attention to the data, unless you plan on sharing with your kids, and pay more attention to our children.

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