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Border Drug Seizures

— Despite arrests and the border battle, drugs are still making it across the border. Reporter Amy Isackson gathered data from government agencies showing the trends.

TOTAL DRUGS SEIZED BY LOCATION. 

Overall, the amount of drugs seized at California border crossings dropped slightly, about 3%, from 2005 through 2008. 

However, the amount of drugs federal agents seized at Calexico and Calexico East skyrocketed. The amount of drugs seized at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border crossings dropped by nearly a third and by half respectively.

Above: TOTAL DRUGS SEIZED BY LOCATION. Overall, the amount of drugs seized at California border crossings dropped slightly, about 3%, from 2005 through 2008. However, the amount of drugs federal agents seized at Calexico and Calexico East skyrocketed. The amount of drugs seized at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa border crossings dropped by nearly a third and by half respectively.

Calexico:

Cocaine seizures have surged at Calexico and Calexico East during the last four years. Meanwhile, cocaine seizures have dropped sharply at San Ysidro and Otay Mesa.

There are a few hypothetical explanations for this. It could mean smugglers shifted their coke smuggling operations east to capitalize on an opening they saw in Calexico. It could also mean a new cartel consolidated its control of Calexico and/or of cocaine smuggling along the California Mexico border.

Meth seizures also increased at Calexico.

The total amount of drugs seized in 2005 compared to 2008 increased 15%. However, the amount peaked in 2006 and has decreased since.

  • Cocaine: From 2005 to 2008 the amount of cocaine seized increased 293%.
  • Marijuana: From 2005 to 2008 the amount of marijuana seized increased slightly, less than a percent. However, it dropped to a three year low in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of seizures increased 60%, from 368 to 592.
  • Methamphetamine: From 2005 to 2008 the amount of methamphetamine seized rose 130%. The number of seizures fluctuated from 29 to 37.

Calexico East:

Drug seizures at Calexico East skyrocketed, up 740%. This is the largest increase at any California border crossing during this time. Agents nabbed more than 600% more cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. Cocaine and meth seizures also surged a few miles to the west at the Calexico crossing. These increases suggest drug smugglers shifted their operations east.

The total amount of drugs seized in 2005 compared to 2008 surged by more than 740%. The total number of seizures tripled.

  • Cocaine: From 2005 to 2008 the amount of cocaine seized rose 617%, to 957 kgs. The total number of seizures tripled to 210.
  • Marijuana: From 2005 to 2008 the amount of marijuana seized rose 747%.
  • Methamphetamine: From 2005 to 2008 the amount of meth seized shot up 623% to 124 kgs. The number of seizures fluctuated over the years. The low was 5 in 2005 and the high was 16 in 2008.

Andrade:

The amount of drugs seized at Andrade were on the rise through 2007, but then dropped by nearly half in 2008.

The most notable drop was with marijuana. From 2005 to 2008, seizures fell 55%. From 2007 to 2008 the amount of marijuana seized dropped a further 82% to 425 kgs. The number of seizures also fell from 31 to 23.

Otay Mesa:

The total amount of drugs agents seized at Otay Mesa fell by half in 2008 compared to 2005. The amount of drugs seized at San Ysidro also dropped. This may mean smugglers shifted their operations east. Drug seizures there skyrocketed at both Calexico and Calexico East during this time.

  • Cocaine: In 2008, the amount of cocaine seized fell 89% compared to 2005. The most notable drop was between 2007 and 2008 when seizures fell 89% from 381 to 41 kgs. The number of seizures fell 77% from 26 to 6.
  • Marijuana: The total amount of marijuana seized between 2005 and 2008 fluctuated, but in the end dropped 50%. Agents made 288 seizures in 2008. This was the four-year low.
  • Methamphetamine: From 2005 to 2008, the total amount of methamphetamine seized dropped 19%. However, it did increase 69% from 2005 to 2007, before dropping 52% between 2007 and 2008.

The number of seizures hit a high of 445 in 2007 and a low of 330 in 2008.

San Ysidro:

The total amount of drugs seized dropped about a third in 2008 compared to 2005. Seizures at Otay Mesa also dropped. Meanwhile, customs agents at Calexico East were busier than ever. Seizures there surged.

  • Cocaine: The amount of cocaine seized from 2005 to 2008 dropped 72%. The most dramatic decrease was between 2006 and 2007 when it fell 60% to 412 kgs. The total number of seizures also fell. Again, the most dramatic decrease was between 2006 and 2007 when agents’ finds fell by nearly half.
  • Marijuana: The amount of marijuana seized dropped 30%.
  • Methamphetamine: The amount of methamphetamine seized dropped 4% from 2005 to 2008. Seizures spiked in 2006, jumping 50% to 577 kgs with 102 seizures. In 2008, seizures dropped 57% to a low of 367 kgs and 64 seizures.

Tecate:

Customs agents seized half the amount of drugs in 2008 compared to 2005. Though, seizures began to creep back up in 2008.

Seizures dropped between 2005 to 2007 but crept back up in 2008.

  • Cocaine: The amount seized and number of seizures increased from 2005 to 2008. In 2005, agents found 30 kgs of cocaine in a total of one seizure. In 2008, they took in 113 kgs with 5 seizures.
  • Marijuana: The total amount seized fell by more than half from 2005 to 2008. However after hitting a low of 808 kgs in 2007, the amount more than doubled in 2008.

Border Patrol Seizures:

From 2005 through 2008, the amount of drugs Border Patrol agents seized along the California-Mexico border increased 15%.

The Border Patrol divides California’s Mexican border into two sections: El Centro and San Diego.

In El Centro, the amount of drugs agents nabbed increased 12%. In San Diego, it grew by 17%. In both sectors, the amount of drugs seized increased steadily from 2005 through 2007 and then dropped off in 2008.

EL CENTRO BORDER PATROL DRUG SEIZURES. 

The amount of cocaine agents seized in the El Centro Sector spiked in 2007 and then dropped off through 2008. Meanwhile, the amount of cocaine agents nabbed in San Diego surged from 2007 through 2008.

Above: EL CENTRO BORDER PATROL DRUG SEIZURES. The amount of cocaine agents seized in the El Centro Sector spiked in 2007 and then dropped off through 2008. Meanwhile, the amount of cocaine agents nabbed in San Diego surged from 2007 through 2008.

EL CENTRO BORDER PATROL DRUG SEIZURES: MARIJUANA. 

The amount of marijuana agents seized in El Centro rose. It hit a high in 2007 and then tapered off.

Above: EL CENTRO BORDER PATROL DRUG SEIZURES: MARIJUANA. The amount of marijuana agents seized in El Centro rose. It hit a high in 2007 and then tapered off.

SAN DIEGO BORDER PATROL DRUG SEIZURES. 

The amount of cocaine agents seized from 2007 through 2008 in San Diego spiked. Meanwhile, it dropped in the El Centro Sector during this period. Heroin and meth seizures in San Diego were on a downward slide from 2005 through 2007 But in 2008 the final tallies for both ended up, just slightly morethan 2005.

Above: SAN DIEGO BORDER PATROL DRUG SEIZURES. The amount of cocaine agents seized from 2007 through 2008 in San Diego spiked. Meanwhile, it dropped in the El Centro Sector during this period. Heroin and meth seizures in San Diego were on a downward slide from 2005 through 2007 But in 2008 the final tallies for both ended up, just slightly morethan 2005.

SAN DIEGO BORDER PATROL DRUG SEIZURES: MARIJUANA. 

The amount of marijuana agents seized in the San Diego sector increased by about two-thirds in 2008 compared to 2005, though it fluctuated over the years.

Above: SAN DIEGO BORDER PATROL DRUG SEIZURES: MARIJUANA. The amount of marijuana agents seized in the San Diego sector increased by about two-thirds in 2008 compared to 2005, though it fluctuated over the years.

Drugs Overview

TOTAL WEIGHT OF DRUGS SEIZED.

Above: TOTAL WEIGHT OF DRUGS SEIZED.

TOTAL NUMBER OF DRUG SEIZURES. 

The total number of drug seizures at California border crossings increased about 3% from 2005 through 2008. That’s after dropping off slightly in 2006 and 2007.

From 2005 through 2008, the total amounts of cocaine and heroin seized rose steadily.

The number of cocaine seizures increased 62% from 2005 through 2008, while the amount seized went up 81%. 

Heroin seizures jumped between 2006 and 2007 and ended up 79% higher overall, while the amounts seized shot up by 151%.

The number of meth seizures peaked in 2006 but fell 9% overall. However, the amount seized increased 38%. 

It is unclear what an increase or decrease in the amount of drugs seized and the number of seizures means. A decrease could mean that customs agents did not catch all the drugs coming through. Or, it could mean that smugglers didn’t try to bring as many drugs across the border. An increase could indicate customs agents are more effective. Or, it could mean that smugglers are trying to push more drugs through.

Above: TOTAL NUMBER OF DRUG SEIZURES. The total number of drug seizures at California border crossings increased about 3% from 2005 through 2008. That’s after dropping off slightly in 2006 and 2007. From 2005 through 2008, the total amounts of cocaine and heroin seized rose steadily. The number of cocaine seizures increased 62% from 2005 through 2008, while the amount seized went up 81%. Heroin seizures jumped between 2006 and 2007 and ended up 79% higher overall, while the amounts seized shot up by 151%. The number of meth seizures peaked in 2006 but fell 9% overall. However, the amount seized increased 38%. It is unclear what an increase or decrease in the amount of drugs seized and the number of seizures means. A decrease could mean that customs agents did not catch all the drugs coming through. Or, it could mean that smugglers didn’t try to bring as many drugs across the border. An increase could indicate customs agents are more effective. Or, it could mean that smugglers are trying to push more drugs through.

The amount of marijuana seized is so much greater than other drugs, we had to make a separate graph for marijuana so data for other drugs would be visible. 

Both seizures by customs agents and the amounts they actually seized dipped in 2006, and then climbed back up again. 

In the end, the number of marijuana seizures increased 1%, while the actual amount seized decreased by 8%.

Above: The amount of marijuana seized is so much greater than other drugs, we had to make a separate graph for marijuana so data for other drugs would be visible. Both seizures by customs agents and the amounts they actually seized dipped in 2006, and then climbed back up again. In the end, the number of marijuana seizures increased 1%, while the actual amount seized decreased by 8%.

The amount of marijuana seized is so much greater than other drugs, we had to make a separate graph for marijuana so data for other drugs would be visible. 

Both seizures by customs agents and the amounts they actually seized dipped in 2006, and then climbed back up again. 

In the end, the number of marijuana seizures increased 1%, while the actual amount seized decreased by 8%.

Above: The amount of marijuana seized is so much greater than other drugs, we had to make a separate graph for marijuana so data for other drugs would be visible. Both seizures by customs agents and the amounts they actually seized dipped in 2006, and then climbed back up again. In the end, the number of marijuana seizures increased 1%, while the actual amount seized decreased by 8%.

Total Value Of Drugs Seized:

TOTAL STREET VALUE OF DRUGS SEIZED.

Above: TOTAL STREET VALUE OF DRUGS SEIZED.

MARIJUANA SEIZURES AND WEIGHT. 
The quantity of marijuana federal agents seize at California border crossings far outweighs the amount of other drugs agents seize. Cocaine places second. 

The total amount of marijuana seized in 2008 dropped slightly from 2005's total. However, after dropping by about one-fifth from 2005 to 2006, seizures crept back up through 2008.

Drug Enforcement officials in San Diego could not provide street prices for marijuana.

Above: MARIJUANA SEIZURES AND WEIGHT. The quantity of marijuana federal agents seize at California border crossings far outweighs the amount of other drugs agents seize. Cocaine places second. The total amount of marijuana seized in 2008 dropped slightly from 2005's total. However, after dropping by about one-fifth from 2005 to 2006, seizures crept back up through 2008. Drug Enforcement officials in San Diego could not provide street prices for marijuana.

COCAINE SEIZURES AND STREET PRICES. 

The amount of cocaine seized increased 81% from 2005 through 2008.

Cocaine’s median street price increased $1,000 between 2006 and 2008.

Above: COCAINE SEIZURES AND STREET PRICES. The amount of cocaine seized increased 81% from 2005 through 2008. Cocaine’s median street price increased $1,000 between 2006 and 2008.

COCAINE SEIZURES AND WEIGHT. 

The amount of cocaine seized increased 81% from 2005 through 2008.

Cocaine’s median street price increased $1,000 between 2006 and 2008.

Above: COCAINE SEIZURES AND WEIGHT. The amount of cocaine seized increased 81% from 2005 through 2008. Cocaine’s median street price increased $1,000 between 2006 and 2008.

METHAMPHETAMINE SEIZURES AND STREET PRICE. 

The amount of meth seized hit a high in 2006 and then tapered off.

Meth prices rose 150% from 2005 through 2008. During this time, prices didn’t always obey the laws of supply and demand. For example, prices rose each year  between 2006 and 2008, though the amount of meth seized decreased.

Above: METHAMPHETAMINE SEIZURES AND STREET PRICE. The amount of meth seized hit a high in 2006 and then tapered off. Meth prices rose 150% from 2005 through 2008. During this time, prices didn’t always obey the laws of supply and demand. For example, prices rose each year between 2006 and 2008, though the amount of meth seized decreased.

METHAMPHETAMINE SEIZURES AND WEIGHT. 

The amount of meth seized hit a high in 2006 and then tapered off.

Meth prices rose 150% from 2005 through 2008. During this time, prices didn’t always obey the laws of supply and demand. For example, prices rose each year  between 2006 and 2008, though the amount of meth seized decreased.

Above: METHAMPHETAMINE SEIZURES AND WEIGHT. The amount of meth seized hit a high in 2006 and then tapered off. Meth prices rose 150% from 2005 through 2008. During this time, prices didn’t always obey the laws of supply and demand. For example, prices rose each year between 2006 and 2008, though the amount of meth seized decreased.

HEROIN SEIZURES AND STREET PRICES. 

The amount of heroin seized shot up 153% from 2005 through 2008.

From 2005 through 2008, heroin prices decreased 10%, despite the increase in heroin seized. Prices peaked in 2007 at $8,391 per kg. Interestingly, prices bucked the laws of supply and demand between 2007 and 2008: the price dropped 27%, though agents nabbed a third more heroin.

Above: HEROIN SEIZURES AND STREET PRICES. The amount of heroin seized shot up 153% from 2005 through 2008. From 2005 through 2008, heroin prices decreased 10%, despite the increase in heroin seized. Prices peaked in 2007 at $8,391 per kg. Interestingly, prices bucked the laws of supply and demand between 2007 and 2008: the price dropped 27%, though agents nabbed a third more heroin.

HEROIN SEIZURES AND WEIGHT. 

The amount of heroin seized shot up 153% from 2005 through 2008.

From 2005 through 2008, heroin prices decreased 10%, despite the increase in heroin seized. Prices peaked in 2007 at $8,391 per kg. Interestingly, prices bucked the laws of supply and demand between 2007 and 2008: the price dropped 27%, though agents nabbed a third more heroin.

Above: HEROIN SEIZURES AND WEIGHT. The amount of heroin seized shot up 153% from 2005 through 2008. From 2005 through 2008, heroin prices decreased 10%, despite the increase in heroin seized. Prices peaked in 2007 at $8,391 per kg. Interestingly, prices bucked the laws of supply and demand between 2007 and 2008: the price dropped 27%, though agents nabbed a third more heroin.

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