Drug Enforcement Administration


Cheri Oz, Special Agent in Charge

November 05, 2015

Contact: William "Bill" Czopek

Phone Number: (571) 324-7080

DEA Releases 2015 Drug Threat Assessment: Heroin And Painkiller Abuse Continue To Spike

Mexican criminal groups remain most significant criminal threat to the United States

PHOENIX - DEA today announced results from the 2015 National Drug Threat (NDTA), which finds that drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, ahead of motor vehicle deaths and firearms.  In 2013, over 46,000 people in the United States died from drug overdose and more than half of those were caused by prescription painkillers and heroin.       

“DEA’s National Drug Threat Assessment provides a clear picture of the drug trafficking threats that we face not only in Arizona, but throughout the entire country,” said Doug Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of DEA in Arizona. “While the challenges we all face our great, DEA and our partners will continue to focus our efforts on attacking these large scale drug trafficking organizations that exploit our communities for their own profit, and create violence in our neighborhoods.  By attacking the problem through enforcement, treatment, and prevention, we can make a difference in our state and our country.”

Some of the report’s findings that impact Arizona include:

  •  Mexican Drug Trafficking (DTOs), like the Sinaloa Cartel, remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States.  Many of the groups, like the Sinaloa Cartel, use the Arizona/Mexico border as the entry point for their illicit cargo to enter the United States, and control virtually all drug trafficking across the Southwest Border.  They are continuously trying to expand their reach throughout the United Sates, and are forming relationships with national level and neighborhood street gangs to push retail distribution.
  • Drug overdose deaths have become the leading cause of injury deaths in the United States, surpassing the number of deaths by firearms and motor vehicles.  On average, 120 people per day die of a drug overdose in the United States. 
  • The heroin threat is serious and increasing.  Heroin is available in larger quantities, used by more people, and causing an increasing number of overdose deaths.  A major cause of this increasing heroin addiction is the rise in Opiate based prescription drugs.  As more and more Americans have become addicted to this category of prescription drug, a significant number of these addicts are transitioning to the use of heroin to meet their addictions.  Arizona seizures of heroin have increased by 246 % in the last five years.   Heroin production and distribution is largely controlled by the Mexican based DTOs. 
  • Methamphetamine continues to be readily available and is being smuggled into the United States in ever increasing quantities.  As the United States has restricted the availability of methamphetamine precursor chemicals over the last ten years, the Mexican based DTOs have become the leading manufacturer and supplier of methamphetamine into the United States. Super laboratories capable of making hundred pound quantities of methamphetamine have proliferated in Mexico, as the precursor controls in that country are not as strong as those in the United States.  In Arizona, methamphetamine seizures have increased by 294 % in the past five years.
The National Drug Threat Assessment is available in its entirety at .
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