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The latest shot at pot taken by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have left marijuana legalization in the clouds, but in the meantime, another drug is the focus of worries by local narcotics fuzz.
A survey of law enforcement and intelligence agencies conducted by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency says marijuana usage has been responsible for zero percent of crime against San Diego persons and property, while methamphetamine's availability and its associated threat to law and order here continue to grow.
"The 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment is a comprehensive strategic assessment of the threat posed to the United States by domestic and international drug trafficking and the abuse of illicit drugs," the forward of the annual report, released late last fall.
"The report combines federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement reporting; public health data; open source reporting; and intelligence from other government agencies to determine which substances and criminal organizations represent the greatest threat to the United States."
The Southwest border "remains the main entry point for the majority of methamphetamine entering the United States," according to the document." Meth seizures jumped 157 percent from 2012 to 2016, with 47 percent of the 2016 busts made in the San Diego corridor.
Warns the document, "Methamphetamine seizures along the [Southwest border] will likely increase as demand in the United States remains high. Domestic production will likely continue to decline as methamphetamine produced in Mexico continues to be a low-cost, high-purity, high-potency alternative."
Meanwhile, marijuana was particularly easy to find in San Diego, with the region tying San Francisco at 89 percent for "high availability," per the report's correspondents. Denver headed the list of pot-prevalent U.S. cities at 91 percent, with Seattle close behind at 90 percent. Los Angeles checked in at 87 percent with Phoenix at 74 percent.
Those numbers have not translated into associated criminal statistics, according to the survey. San Diego's top drug threat, is methamphetamine, at 55.6 percent. Heroin and marijuana tied for second place with 16.7 percent. Controlled Prescription Drugs came it third at 11.1 percent.
The most significant illegal drug contributing to violent crime in San Diego was found to be heroin, at 77.8 percent, followed by cocaine and methamphetamine, each with 5.6 percent. Marijuana was listed at zero, compared to the survey's national average of 4.3 percent.
Methamphetamine was reported to be the top drug contributing to San Diego property crime, at 72.2 percent, with heroin at 22.2 percent and Controlled Prescription Drugs at 5.6 percent. Pot again was listed as having a zero association, compared to the national average of 6.9 percent.
Still, the DEA report warns against complacency in the federal war against weed. "Marijuana arrests and seizures have declined due to changing state laws, not due to declining supply or demand," the report says.
"Marijuana is widely available in the Pacific and West Central regions and many criminal organizations operate in these areas," says the document, "however, most law enforcement respondents do not report marijuana as their greatest drug threat, likely due to changing public perceptions on marijuana and law enforcement attention on other illicit drug threats, such as opioids."
"Some state laws are easily abused by criminal organizations. Personal state-approved marijuana cultivation often referred to as 'home grows' attracts drug traffickers to Colorado and California, where they can establish networks of grow houses to produce large amounts of marijuana to sell in out-of-state markets."
Cocaine traffic has also remained significant here, with fifty percent of seizures along the U.S. border with Mexico occurring in the San Diego corridor.
"This marks the second consecutive year seizures in the San Diego corridor have increased, while seizures in the Rio Grande Valley corridor previously decreased between 2014 and 2015," says the report.
"Traffickers most commonly smuggle cocaine into the United States via privately owned vehicles passing through ports of entry along the [Southwest border]. Cocaine is hidden amongst legitimate cargo on commercial trucks or secreted inside hidden compartments built within passenger vehicles."