Border To Border Drugs

Credit Nicholas McVicker

Drug distribution rings operate a sophisticated export business along the freeways that stretch from southern California and Arizona up to the Canadian border, smuggling drugs across the border and then distributing them up and down the West Coast through a broad array of sub-contractors, unwitting accomplices and cartel deputies within our communities.  

We looked into an industry that reaches every city and every small town in every state of the West.  In a collaborative series called Border To Border Drugs, Fronteras: The Changing America Desk and the Northwest News Network explore these distribution networks, the smuggling strategies and trends, and the devastating impact of America's insatiable appetite for illegal substances.

Crime, Law and Justice
3:31 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Law Enforcement, Truckers Try To Keep Ahead Of Smugglers

CBP officers at the Otay Mesa commercial port of entry often inspect trucks in blocks. More than five million trucks crossed into the U.S. from Mexico in 2012.
Nicholas McVicker

For drug smugglers, getting a truckload of illegal narcotics past border authorities means potentially huge profits.

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Crime, Law and Justice
3:53 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

San Diego Is Biggest Entry Point For Mexican Meth

Federal K-9 unit inspects vehicles at the U.S. border with Mexico.
Jill Replogle Fronteras

More than 70 percent of methamphetamine illegally trafficked into the U.S. passes through U.S.-Mexico border crossings in the San Diego area. That’s despite laws in both countries designed to crack down on the drug.

Customs and Border Protection agents at the San Ysidro Port of Entry face a tough balancing act. Facilitating international trade and travel on the one hand. On the other, trying to stop drugs and other illegal cargo from getting into the U.S.

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Crime, Law and Justice
3:20 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Drug Cartels Thrive On Ultimate Consumers: Addicts

Recovering addict Kevin Lehl says he found it easier to find heroin in Portland, Ore. than coffee shops.
Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Drug cartels are doing big business up and down the West Coast. When you go by freeway, you’re driving a Silk Road of sorts for heroin, meth and cocaine.

This export industry is evolving. Drug experts say heroin is back on the rise, fueled in part by prescription drug abuse. And while the supply side of the business may change, the demand remains strong.

"I was in love with it from the very beginning"

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Crime, Law and Justice
2:44 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Drugs, Guns And Money: Anatomy Of A West Coast Trafficking Ring

A trial exhibit that shows the geographic scope of the Berrelleza-Verduzco trafficking ring.
Court Exhibit: US v. Anchondo

Mexican drug cartels operate an illicit export business that depends on freeways that run from California and Arizona to Canada. 

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