Cross-Site Data / NFLIS 2016: Drug Reports for Items Seized by Law Enforcement

Domain: Availability
Indicator: Drug Reports for Items Seized by Law Enforcement
Data Source: National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS)
 
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) systematically collects results from drug analyses conducted by state and local forensic laboratories. These laboratories analyze controlled and noncontrolled substances secured in law enforcement operations across the United States. These drug seizure data provide indicators of availability of substances in the illicit market and law enforcement engagement, and are one of our most important indicators for identifying emerging drugs and changes in drug availability (NIDA 2015, page 7).
 
The drug reports presented for the 12 NDEWS Sentinel Community Sites (SCS) are counts based on data queried from the DEA’s NFLIS Data Query System (DQS) on May 28, 2017 and represent drugs identified in items submitted in calendar year 2016 in the SCS reporting areas. (A description of the NFLIS Drug Reports can be found in the Overview and Limitations of NDEWS Data SourcesTable 5a includes a list of the top 10 most frequently identified drugs in the United States; this list comes from the DEA’s National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) 2016 Midyear Report and is based on national estimates of drug reports using the NEAR (National Estimates Based on All Reports) approach. (See National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS): Statistical Methodology report for more information about how the national estimates are derived).
 

Highlights

Ranking and Prevalence of Selected NFLIS Drug Reports: The 10 most frequently identified drugs in the United States, based on 2016 national estimates of NFLIS drug reports, were (in descending order): cannabis (i.e., marijuana), methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, alprazolam, oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, buprenorphine, and amphetamine. (Table 5a) Cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, alprazolam, and oxycodone were also among the top 10 most frequently identified drugs in at least 9 of the 12 NDEWS SCS reporting areas. (Table 5a) Fentanyl ranked among the top 10 in more than half of the NDEWS SCs reporting areas. Although hydrocodone, buprenorphine, and amphetamine ranked 8th,9th, 10th, respectively, in the nation, these drugs did not rank in the top 10 in the majority of the NDEWS SCS reporting areas. There were a number of drugs that ranked in the top 10 in a given SCS but did not rank in the top 10 nationally; those drugs are listed, by SCS, in the final column of Table 5a.
 
  • Cannabis (i.e., marijuana) ranked first in the United States as the most frequently identified drug and first or second among 8 NDEWS SCS reporting areas: New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago Metro, Wayne County (Detroit Area), Southeastern Florida (Miami Area), Texas, Denver Metro, and Los Angeles. (Table 5a)
    • The percentage of cannabis drug reports at each NDEWS SCS site varied from a high of 49.6% in Wayne County (Detroit Area) to a low of 2.2% in Atlanta Metro. (Figure 5a)
  • Although 2016 national estimates indicate that methamphetamine was the second most frequently identified drug among law enforcement drug seizures in the nation, regional variations were evident. In NDEWS SCS reporting areas in the Southern and Western United States, methamphetamine ranked as the most frequently identified drug in 6 of the 7 sites, compared to not ranking within the top 3 in all the Midwestern and Northeastern NDEWS SCS reporting areas. (Table 5a)
    • The percentage of methamphetamine drug reports at each NDEWS SCS ranged from a high of 41.1% in Los Angeles to a low of 0.6% in Philadelphia. (Figure 5b)
  • Cocaine ranked among the top 3 most frequently identified drugs in all 12 NDEWS SCS reporting areas. (Table 5a)
    • The percentage of cocaine drug reports at each NDEWS SCS site ranged from a high of 36.6% in Southeastern Florida (Miami Area) to a low of 11.4% in King County (Seattle Area). (Figure 5c)
  • Heroin ranked among the top 5 most frequently identified drugs in all 12 NDEWS SCS reporting areas. (Table 5a)
    • The percentage of heroin drug reports at each NDEWS SCS site ranged from a high of 28.7% in King County (Seattle Area) to a low of 4.3% in Texas. (Figure 5d)
  • Fentanyl ranked among the top 10 drug reports in 7 NDEWS SCS reporting areas in 2016: Maine, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago Metro, Wayne County (Detroit Area), Southeastern Florida (Miami Area), and King County (Seattle Area). (Table 5a)
  • MDMA and PCP ranked among the top 10 most frequently identified drugs in many NDEWS SCS reporting areas even though these drugs did not rank in the top 10 nationally. (Table 5a)
    • Regional variations were also identified for MDMA seizures in 2016. MDMA ranked among the top 10 drug reports in all 4 sites in the West Region and was among the top 10 drug reports in only one other of the 8 remaining NDEWS sites (Chicago Metro). (Table 5a)
    • PCP ranked in the top 10 drug reports in 6 NDEWS SCS reporting areas in 2016: New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago Metro, Texas, King County (Seattle Area) and Los Angeles. (Table 5a)
Drug Reports for Selected Categories of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS): Six NPS drug categories are of current interest to the NDEWS Project because of the recent increase in their numbers, types, and availability. The NPS categories are emerging drugs, and as such, each category does not necessarily represent a large percentage of drug reports among total items seized. However, the identification of these substances in NFLIS is one of the most important indicators that we have for identifying the availability of new and emerging drugs. Table 5b presents the counts and percentages of total drug reports of the six NPS categories, opioids, and the two drugs (MDMA and PCP) that ranked among the top 10 most frequently identified drugs in many NDEWS SCS reporting areas but were not ranked in the top 10 nationally.
  • Six of 12 NDEWS SCS reporting areas saw evidence of all NPS categories in their area (i.e., included at least one report of a drug in each of the NPS categories). The 6 sites were: Chicago Metro, Atlanta Metro, Southeastern Florida (Miami Area), Texas, Denver Metro, and Los Angeles County. (Table 5b)
  • Most of these NPS categories represent less than 3.0% of the items seized, with the exception of fentanyls in Maine (18.7%), New York City (3.8%), and Southeastern Florida (Miami Area) (3.9%) synthetic cannabinoids in Texas (5.1%) and synthetic cathinones in Southeastern Florida (Miami Area) (3.1%). (Table 5b)
  • Fentanyls and synthetic cathinones were reported in all 12 NDEWS SCS reporting areas in 2016; synthetic cannabinoids were reported in 10 NDEWS SCS reporting areas; 2C Phenethylamines (e.g., NBOMe-type drugs) in 7 reporting areas; and piperazines and tryptamines (e.g., DMT) in 9 reporting areas. (Table 5b)
    • NDEWS reporting areas in the Southern United States reported higher numbers of synthetic cathinones. (Table 5b)
    • Out of the 40,481 fentanyls seized nationwide in 2016, 1,717 fentanyls were identified in New York City, 1,301 in Chicago Metro, and 829 in Southeastern Florida (Miami Area). (Table 5b)
    • Out of the 25,603 synthetic cannabinoids seized nationwide in 2016, 6,373 synthetic cannabinoids were identified in Texas, 225 in Philadelphia, and 204 in Chicago Metro.  (Table 5b)
    • Out of the 7,759 synthetic cathinones seized nationwide in 2016, 1,083 synthetic cathinones were identified in Texas, 664 in Southeastern Florida (Miami), 295 in Atlanta Metro, and 161 in Chicago Metro. (Table 5b)
 
Emerging Drugs Identified in 2016: Table 5c presents the top 5 drugs that were identified within each NPS category in each of the 12 NDEWS SCS reporting areas in 2016. There is a range in the number and types of substances detected across the 12 NDEWS sites.
  • Fentanyls: In 2016, fentanyl was the number 1 most frequently reported fentanyl-type drug reported in all 12 NDEWS SCS sites. Furanyl fentanyl (10 sites) and acetylfentanyl (8 sites) were among the top 5 types of other fentanyls reported in 2016. (Table 5c)
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids: In 2016, there were a wide variety of synthetic cannabinoids reported across the 12 NDEWS SCS reporting areas. No specific drug appeared in all sites. The two drugs that appeared among a site’s top 5 synthetic cannabinoids most often were AB-FUBINACA (7 sites) and XLR-11 (5 sites). (Table 5c)
  • Synthetic Cathinones: Ethylone, dibutylone, and pentylone were the most commonly reported synthetic cathinones in the 12 NDEWS SCS reporting areas in 2016.
  • 2C Phenethylamines: Texas (161 reports) reported the highest number of 2C phenethylamines.
    • 2C-B appeared in the most NDEWS reporting areas in 2016 (6 of 12). (Table 5c)
    • 25-B-NBOMe appeared in 5 NDEWS SCS reporting areas and 25-I-NBOMe and 25-C-NBOMe each appeared in 4 reporting areas in 2016. (Table 5c)
  • Piperazines: BZP and TFMPP were the two most common piperazines reported. (Table 5c)
  • Tryptamines: DMT was reported in 8 NDEWS SCS reporting areas in 2016. (Table 5c)
 
Additional Charts (not presented in Cross-Site Highlights) Comparing Drug Reports for Items Seized by Law Enforcement in NDEWS Sentinel Community Sites (SCS): 
 

 

See also: Archived Cross-Site Data Presentations