Methamphetamine distribution by Mexican criminal groups is expanding to sustain markets previously supplied by local production, particularly in midwestern and eastern states:
As methamphetamine production in small-scale laboratories has decreased nationally since 2004, Mexican criminal groups have expanded direct distribution of methamphetamine, even in many smaller communities. For example, in midwestern states such as Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio, where methamphetamine laboratory seizures have decreased significantly–in some states by more than 55 percent–Mexican criminal groups have gained control over most distribution of the drug. In fact, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) reports that in cities such as Des Moines and Sioux City, where methamphetamine production and distribution previously were controlled by local independent traffickers, Mexican criminal groups, primarily distributing ice methamphetamine, have supplanted independent traffickers.
Law enforcement reporting confirms a similar trend throughout much of the Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Florida/Caribbean, Southeast, and West Central Regions. These groups pose an increased challenge to local law enforcement because they are often Mexico-based, well-organized, and experienced drug distributors that have been successful in blending into somewhat insular Hispanic communities or among Hispanic workers employed in the agricultural, landscaping, construction, and meat packaging industries. The ability of Mexican criminal groups to continue the expansion of methamphetamine distribution into more communities in the eastern United States appears to be limited primarily by their capability to further expand methamphetamine production in Mexico.