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Nevada HIDTA

General Information:
  Year of Designation:  2001
  Geographic Area of Responsibility:
    Nevada: Clark County
    Contact: (702) 759-8070

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Nevada HIDTA is to measurably reduce drug trafficking, thereby reducing the impact of illicit drugs in this and other areas of the country. This mission is accomplished through the use of multi-agency intelligence driven task forces designed to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations.

Threat Abstract:

Methamphetamine continues to be the most significant drug threat in the Nevada (Clark County) HIDTA. Law enforcement has en- countered multi-pound quantities of Mexican manufactured methamphetamine and ‘Ice', which is distinguished by its high purity levels (95-98%), and higher price. Al- though ‘Ice' is not considered to be prevalent, distribution is on the rise. Statistics provided by the Southern Nevada Joint Methamphetamine Task Force (SNJMTH) show an alarming increase in the amount of methamphetamine seized within the HIDTA. In CY02, there were approximately 3,673 grams seized. In CY03, seizures totaled 33,895 grams, an increase in over 960%. Additional statistics, provided by the SNJMTF, indicates that clandestine laboratory investigations have decreased by 50% from 2001 (2003-127; 2001-254). The primary reason for this reduction is the inclusion of pseudoephedrine, a precursor to methamphetamine, as a Schedule III Con- trolled Substance in the State of Nevada. This legislation along with increased law enforcement operations has not only de- creased the availability, but has significantly increased the price of case quantities of pseudoephedrine.

Marijuana continues to be the drug of choice in the Nevada HIDTA. The primary source for marijuana smuggled into the HIDTA is

Mexican poly-drug trafficking organizations; however, it is also cultivated locally via hydroponic production. Additionally, law enforcement has encountered Canadian “BC Bud” in limited instances.

Cocaine remains extremely popular and readily available specifically among the impoverished communities such as housing projects located in the Clark County area. The majority of this cocaine is produced outside of the HIDTA and transported primarily from southern California and Arizona. In CY03, the Clark County Coroner's office reported that the highest death rate among users of illicit drugs was cocaine. There were 38 deaths as a result of the specific use of cocaine, and 69 deaths attributed to the ingestion of cocaine and other drugs.

The club scene in the Nevada HIDTA is a haven for illegal drug traffickers of club drugs (MDMA, LSD, PCP, GHB/GBL, Rohypnol, Ketamine and analog drugs). These drugs are trafficked and abused in local nightclubs, adult entertainment clubs and at raves. Production of club drugs does not occur within the HIDTA, and the majority of these drugs are supplied by international trafficking organizations. The Clark County Coroner's Office reported that in CY03, there were a total of 3 deaths from the use of MDMA. The Southern Nevada Club Drug Task Force provided statistics for CY03 indicating there were approximately 67,000- 168,000 dosage units of MDMA seized within the Clark County area.

The Diversion of pharmaceutical drugs is on the rise. Prescription fraud, “doctor shopping,” illegal sales by pharmacists, and in- discriminate prescribing by practitioners all contribute to the diversion threat. Law enforcement and the Nevada Controlled Substance Task Force Board report that particularly Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab & Norco); Oxycodone (Percodan, Percocet & Oxycontin) and Alprazolam (Xanax) are the main pharmaceuticals being diverted, illegally distributed, and abused in the Nevada HIDTA.

In CY02, the number of prescriptions filled (2.7 million) exceeded the state's population. In CY03, 8,395 patients in Nevada were considered exceeding the drug threshold established by the Board of Pharmacy. According to the DEA, Nevada was above average in Oxycontin distribution from January 2002-December 2003. During this period, Nevada's ranking for Oxycontin distribution rose from number 3 to 2 in a national ranking of all states for Oxycontin distribution. In CY03, the Clark County Coroner's Office reported receiving approximately 185 multiple pharmaceutical drug overdose cases.

In identifying 55 DTO's during CY03, Nevada HIDTA initiatives continue to recognize that Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO's) are responsible for supplying the majority of available Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, and Heroin into the region.

Strategy Abstract:

A Nevada HIDTA Executive Board, comprised of the chief executive officer of seven federal and six state and local law enforcement agencies in Clark County, ensures a system that reduces drug trafficking, eliminates duplication of effort and systematically improves the sharing of drug intelligence. One hundred nineteen representatives from thirteen federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are full time participants in NV HIDTA initiatives.

The strategy is implemented through seven collocated multi-agency investigative task forces, one collocated multi-agency intelligence initiative, one training initiative and one management and administrative initiative. The seven task force initiatives target drug trafficking, money laundering, clandestine drug lab manufacturing, apprehension of drug fugitives and violent street gang drug trafficking organizations with the intent to disrupt/dismantle these organizations through such techniques as undercover purchases, controlled deliveries, pen registers, toll analysis and wire intercepts.

The Investigative Support Center (ISC) and the Management and Coordination Initiatives are collocated in a facility shared with the Las Vegas District Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The other Nevada HIDTA initiatives include the Interdiction Task Force, the Southern Nevada Club Drug Task Force (SNCDTF), the Southern Nevada Joint Methamphetamine Task Force (SNJMTF), the Clark County Gang Task Force, the Money Laundering and Asset Removal Task Force (MLAR), the Major Drug Trafficking Organizations Task Force (MDTO) and the Nevada Fugitive Investigative Strike Team (NV FIST).

Investigative Support Center:

The Investigative Support Center (ISC) serves as a dual function initiative providing both intelligence and tactical support to the other Nevada HIDTA initiatives. Of critical importance is the deconfliction support that provides 7 day a week, 24 hour a day deconfliction services via a contract with the Los Angeles County Regional Criminal Information Clearing House (L.A.CLEAR). This process ensures the officers and agents from all the initiatives are working in an environment free from other law enforcement investigations and with a pointer system should these investigations cross over to other initiatives interests.

In CY2003, the Nevada HIDTA posted 2270 critical events with LA Clear which resulted in 170 (8%) potential event conflicts. Additionally, the Nevada HIDTA made 2256 subject/case inquiries, resulting in 776 (26%) hits.

The ISC's intelligence role is also to provide investigators from all the initiatives with tactical multi-source intelligence on a daily basis as well as with strategic intelligence relating to emerging trends in production, distribution and transportation of drugs.

The ISC acts as the primary communication and storage facility for intelligence for all initiatives. It provides access to RISS.NET, NDPIX, FINCEN, M204, RMIN, TECS and other various federal, state and local databases.

The tactical intelligence function also provides the initiatives with initial subject and organization background investigations, and is prepared to do net worth investigations, asset identification and post seizure analysis.

The strategic intelligence function monitors domestic and foreign trends associated with narcotics activity. This includes such issues as dominant individuals/organizations, concealment methods, currency transfers, price, purity and availability. The strategic intelligence function conducts an annual narcotics/crime survey based upon statistical information provided by relevant agencies in the HIDTA area of interest. This information is consolidated to generate the annual threat assessment for the Executive Boards review and approval.

The ISC also serves as a resource pool of personnel to provide assistance in investigations to all HIDTA initiatives.

The Nevada Air National Guard RAID detachment and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Air Support Unit provide aerial support and surveillance for the Nevada HIDTA initiatives.

Participating Agencies:

Federal: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), United States Attorneys Office, United States Marshals Service (USMS) and the United States Forest Service.

State/local: Clark County District Attorney's Office, Henderson Police Department (HPD), Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD), Nevada Department of Public Safety, Nevada National Guard (NNG), and the North Las Vegas Police Department (NLVPD).

Significant Achievements:

Methamphetamine has been identified as the primary drug threat facing the Nevada HIDTA. In March 2003, the SNJMTF initiated an investigation targeting a Mexican methamphetamine ‘ICE' distribution organization. In August 2003, the case developed into a Title III investigation targeting three separate cellular phones. Investigators soon determined that this large scale drug trafficking organization was importing multiple pound quantities of methamphetamine, marijuana, and cocaine directly from Mexico on a weekly basis. The organization utilized vehicles with sophisticated hidden compartments for importing drugs into the United States and exporting drug proceeds back to Mexico. Additional Title III information showed the Las Vegas based cell of this organization was actively transporting vehicle loads of methamphetamine ‘ICE' to Oregon and Nebraska.

The investigation led to the identification of organizational leadership in Tijuana, Mexico and additional co-conspirators to include distributors, facilitators and couriers. The head of the Las Vegas operation was responsible for transporting money and coordinating shipments of drugs to other destinations.

Due to the outstanding efforts of the SNJMTF, total seizures include 93.2 pounds of methamphetamine (street value $4,231,280), 18 arrests and asset seizures with an estimated value of $250,000. As the result of large seizures and key arrests, including the head of the Las Vegas operation, this organization's method of operation has been significantly disrupted.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2005