The 2015 Heroin Signature Program Report



Yüklə 106,51 Kb.
Pdf görüntüsü
tarix15.05.2018
ölçüsü106,51 Kb.
#44325


UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED

1

DEA-DCW-DIR-032-17

The 2015 Heroin Signature 

Program Report

DEA 

Intelligence 

Brief

August 2017

DEA 

Intelligence 

Report

(U) This product was prepared by the DEA Intelligence Programs

Section. Comments and questions may be addressed to the Chief,

Analysis and Production Section at

 dea.onsi@usdoj.gov

.  For media/

press inquiries call (202) 307-7977.



UNCLASSIFIED

2

Overview

  

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Heroin Signature Program (HSP) analyzes several hundred 



wholesale-level heroin samples each year to identify the geographic area—Mexico, South America (SA), 

Southwest Asia (SWA), or Southeast Asia (SEA)—where the samples were manufactured.  In 2015: 

Heroin from Mexico accounted for 93 percent (by weight) of the heroin analyzed through the HSP.



Heroin from SA accounted for 3 percent.

Heroin under the new formal HSP classification of “Inconclusive Origin-South American” processing 



method (INC-SA), which is assigned to heroin where either Mexico or South America could be the 

origin, but is produced or refined using South American processing methods, accounted for 3 percent.

Heroin from SWA accounted for 1 percent.  



There were no SEA heroin samples submitted to the program in 2015.  Since its inception more than 35 years 

ago, the HSP has proven to be a valuable indicator of changes in the supply of heroin by providing insight into 

the wholesale-level of heroin trafficking to the United States. 

Background 

 

The HSP is one essential component of the ability of DEA’s Intelligence Program to identify trends in heroin 



trafficking and distribution in the United States.  The objective of the program is to identify and quantify the 

chemical components of heroin seized at U.S. ports of entry (POEs), all non-POE heroin seizures weighing 

more than 1 kilogram, randomly chosen samples, and special requests for analysis. Samples submitted to the 

HSP undergo in-depth chemical analysis at the DEA Special Testing and Research Laboratory (SFL1).  This 

chemical analysis allows SFL1 to associate the heroin samples with a production process, or “signature,” 

which is indicative of a particular geographic source area and processing method.  The proportion of heroin 

associated with each geographic source area is measured in terms of the net weight of heroin seized and 

analyzed in the program from each source area that year.

Signature analysis conducted under the HSP is currently the only scientifically based source of information 

available to determine the origin of wholesale-level quantities of heroin encountered in the U.S. drug market.  

HSP chemical analysis data—combined with the retail-level Heroin Domestic Monitor Program, investigative, 

and other types of reporting—allow for the identification of possible changes in the geographic source 

and purity of heroin in the United States, as well as changes in trafficking routes and methods.  The HSP 

continually undergoes quality assurance by analyzing authentic samples obtained from the primary heroin 

production regions.  

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 




UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED

3

DEA Intelligence Report

2015 Heroin Signature Program Results

In 2015, heroin from Mexico accounted for 93 percent (by weight) of the heroin analyzed by the HSP.  SA 

and INC-SA heroin both accounted for 3 percent; and SWA heroin accounted for 1 percent.  No SEA heroin 

samples were submitted to the program in 2015.  Over 905 HSP samples, representing approximately 1,951 

kilograms of heroin, were analyzed in 2015 by SFL1.  Of those 905 samples, 872 (representing approximately 

1,907 kilograms) were classified through the HSP (see Figure 1) 



.

a

a



 Since all heroin seized in the United States is not submitted for analysis through the HSP, the source area proportions 

reported through the HSP should not be characterized as market share. Fluctuations from year to year in source area 

proportions may reflect shifting law enforcement priorities, changes in trafficking patterns, or exceptionally large seizures that 

could boost the HSP representation of a particular source area. To achieve a comprehensive assessment of heroin smuggled 

into and trafficked in the United States, HSP data must be used in conjunction with investigative reporting, drug production 

estimates, and seizure statistics.  

 

(U) Figure 1:  HSP Geographic Source Area Summary.

Signature

Number of 

Samples

Weight of 

Samples

(kilograms)

Percentage 

by Weight

2015

2014

2015

2014

2015

2014

Mexican-Origin 

747

508


1,771

1,332


93%

79%


MEX-SA

393


209

1,060


777

60

58



MEX/BP

14

24



33

68

2



5

MEX/T


336

271


672

482


38

36

MEX



4

4

6



5

0

1



SA

46

153



58

288


3

17

INC-SA



54

55

63



47

3

3



SWA

25

16



15

9

1



1

SEA


0

0

0



0

0

0



Total

872

732

1,907

1,676 100% 100%

Source:  DEA




UNCLASSIFIED

4

In 2015, approximately 3 percent of the heroin samples submitted for analysis through the HSP were classified 

as “unknown” (UNK), which represents a decrease of 5 percentage points from 2014 when 8 percent of HSP 

heroin samples were classified UNK.  According to SFL1, heroin samples are classified as UNK when the 

signature profiles of the samples are not consistent with the signature profiles of authentic heroin samples 

collected from any of the four geographic source regions.  Since heroin is manufactured through a series of 

chemical processing steps, signature analysis is expected to result in a certain number of samples whose 

signature is UNK or undetermined.  Generally, a range of 4 to 7 percent of heroin samples classified as UNK 

is considered to be normal.   The decrease 

in the number of 2015 HSP heroin samples 

classified as UNK is due in large part to new 

forensic protocols introduced by SFL1 in 

May 2015.  These protocols allow chemists 

to better differentiate and isolate the origin of 

heroin samples previously classified as UNK 

to either Mexico or South America.  Heroin 

samples classified as UNK are not included in 

the HSP Geographic Source Area Summary.

Heroin classified as MEX-SA (new formal 

signature for Mexican white powder heroin, 

indicating Mexican-origin with South 

American processing methods) had the 

highest purity average in 2015 at 70 percent, 

followed by SA heroin at 63 percent  

(see Figure 2).

Mexico

Analysis of 2015 HSP data identified Mexico as the primary source of origin for heroin transported to the 

United States for the third consecutive year.  Mexico was identified as the geographic origin of 93 percent (by 

weight) of samples classified under the HSP during 2015.  Of these samples, 60 percent were classified as 

Mexican-South American (MEX-SA); 38 percent as Mexican-Black Tar (MEX/T); and 2 percent as Mexican-

Brown Powder (MEX/BP).  Less than 1 percent was classified as MEX, which is the classification assigned to 

refined or crudely manufactured heroin from Mexico.  This classification is assigned when MEX/T, MEX/BP, or 

MEX-SA are not applicable.  In 2015, the percentage (by weight) of Mexican-origin heroin analyzed through the 

HSP increased 14 percentage points, from 79 percent in 2014 to 93 percent in 2015.  The weight of Mexican-

origin heroin samples submitted to the HSP also increased, from approximately 1,332 kilograms (508 samples) 

in 2014, to 1,771 kilograms (747 samples) in 2015.  

The average overall purity of Mexican-origin heroin analyzed through the HSP in 2015 increased 12 

percentage points, from 44 percent in 2014 to 56 percent in 2015.  Within Mexican signatures, MEX-SA 

heroin had the highest purity level at 70 percent in 2015, followed by MEX/BP at 43 percent, and MEX/T at 41 

percent.  In 2015, 26 percent of MEX-SA heroin was adulterated, with caffeine being the primary adulterant 

(U) Figure 2:  HSP Average Heroin Purity.

Signature

Average Purity

2015

2014

MEX-SA

70%


74%

SA

63%


61%

SWA

54%


35%

INC-SA

51%


39%

MEX/BP

43%


43%

MEX

41%


44%

MEX/T 

41%


39%

SEA

N/A


N/A

Source:  DEA




UNCLASSIFIED__6'>UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED

5

DEA Intelligence Report

followed by quinine.

b

  Four MEX-SA samples were found to contain fentanyl hydrochloride (HCl).  In 2015, 



inositol and mannitol were the most common diluents found in MEX-SA heroin samples.

c

  Forensic analysis 



of 2015 HSP heroin samples also revealed that previously detected cutting patterns for MEX-SA shipments 

continue, in that the heroin becomes heavily adulterated with additional caffeine and other adulterants once 

the heroin crosses the U.S. Southwest Border (SWB).  MEX-SA heroin is also further diluted inside the United 

States with the same previously detected diluents—mannitol, inositol, and lactose. The majority of MEX/T and 

MEX/BP samples analyzed under the HSP in 2015 were unadulterated; however, of the adulterated samples, 

lidocaine was the most detected adulterant with mannitol as the most common diluent, followed by lactose, 

sucrose, dextrose, and inositol.  

The number of Mexican-origin heroin samples seized at Arizona POEs and submitted to the HSP for analysis 

increased from 32 in 2014 to 50 in 2015, while Mexican-origin heroin seizures at POEs in Texas decreased 

from 19 in 2014 to 13 in 2015.  Heroin seizures at POEs in California rose from 147 in 2014 to 211 in 2015 

(see Figure 3).  A significant number of the POE seizures in California were made at the San Ysidro  

POE (107 samples).  

The number of Mexican-origin heroin samples seized at U.S. POEs has increased steadily since 2001, and 

clearly demonstrates the increased smuggling of Mexico-produced heroin through Mexico toward the SWB.  

Figure 4 summarizes the number and purity of Mexican-origin heroin samples seized at U.S. POEs and 

analyzed through the HSP from 2001 to 2015.  

Although the availability of Mexican-origin heroin, especially MEX/T and MEX/BP, remains strong in markets 

west of the Mississippi River, 2015 HSP data indicates that increasing amounts of Mexican-origin heroin 

b

 Adulterants are pharmacologically active substances that are added to heroin to enhance or mimic the effect of heroin.  



A good example of an adulterant is acetaminophen, an analgesic compound often found with heroin. That said, many 

current heroin adulterants do not meet this criteria, as they may have an adverse effect, or possibly no effect, to the heroin. 

Adulterants can be added to heroin shipments immediately after production, in transit, or prior to distribution. Although 

dextromethorphan for Southwest Asian heroin and diltiazem for South American heroin are examples of adulterants that are 

added immediately after production, xylazine for Puerto Rico and quinine for Washington, DC-Baltimore are examples of city-

specific adulteration prior to distribution.  

c

 Diluents are inert ingredients (pharmacologically inactive compounds) used to increase the bulk of a finished product. Typical 



diluents include sugars, starches, and inorganic salts.  

(U) Figure 3:  Mexican and South American Heroin 

Seized at Southwest Border Ports of Entry by State.

SWB State

Mexican Origin Heroin 

(Number of Exhibits)

SA Heroin 

(Number of Exhibits)

2015


2014

2015


2014

Arizona


50

32

2



2

California

211

147


3

14

New Mexico



0

0

0



0

Texas


13

19

0



4

Source:  DEA




UNCLASSIFIED__UNCLASSIFIED__9__DEA_Intelligence_Report__Outlook'>UNCLASSIFIED__8___Inconclusive_-_South_America'>UNCLASSIFIED

6

have moved into Eastern and Midwestern 

U.S. markets.  In 2015, for example, the 

HSP received a total of 165 Mexican-origin 

heroin samples obtained from the following 

areas that are predominately SA white 

heroin markets:  Connecticut (6 samples), 

Florida (6 samples), Illinois (30 samples - 28 

classified as MEX-SA), Michigan (13 samples 

- 10 classified as  MEX-SA), New York (74 

samples - 72 classified as MEX-SA), North 

Carolina (6 samples), Ohio (13 samples - 6 

classified as MEX-SA), Pennsylvania (8 

samples – all classified as MEX-SA), Rhode 

Island (1 sample), and Virginia (4 samples).  

These samples represent a 65 percent 

increase in the total number of Mexican-

origin heroin samples obtained in these same 

markets in 2014.  Of particular importance is 

that the majority of Mexican-origin HSP heroin 

samples obtained from Illinois, Michigan, 

New York, and Pennsylvania in 2015 were 

classified as MEX-SA.  This is an indication 

that Mexican drug trafficking organizations are 

producing white heroin for distribution in the 

eastern United States and continue to expand 

their operations in order to gain a larger share 

of these lucrative, historically white heroin 

markets.

South America

South America (SA) was identified as the 

geographic source area of 3 percent (by 

weight) of heroin samples classified under 

the HSP during 2015.  This represents a 

significant decrease from 2014, when SA 

heroin accounted for 17 percent (by weight) 

of the heroin analyzed through the HSP.  The 

weight of SA heroin samples submitted to 

the HSP also decreased dramatically, from 

288 kilograms in 2014 to only 58 kilograms in 2015.  From 1995 to 2013, South America (primarily Colombia) 

accounted for the majority of the heroin analyzed through the HSP; however, HSP results since 2013 indicate 

that South America is now the second most common source of the heroin available in the United States.

The average purity of SA heroin increased from 61 percent in 2014 to 63 percent in 2015.  According to SFL 

1 forensic analysis, approximately 66 percent of SA heroin samples were found to be adulterated.  Caffeine 

continued to be the most common adulterant for SA heroin, followed by diltiazem.  Adulterants such as quinine, 

lidocaine, benzocaine, and diltiazem were also detected in many samples.  In addition, controlled substances 

were also identified in SA heroin samples analyzed by the HSP, including cocaine (6 samples) and fentanyl 

(1 sample).  Lactose, mannitol, and inositol were the most commonly used diluents for SA heroin.  

(U) Figure 4:  Characteristics of Mexican Heroin Seized at 

U.S. Ports of Entry and Analyzed through the DEA  

Heroin Signature Program.

Calendar Year Number of Exhibits 

Average Purity 

2015


10 (MEX/BP)

44.1%


101 (MEX-SA)

72.0%


163 (MEX/T)

42.2%


2014

12 (MEX/BP)

54.0%

63 (MEX-SA)



82.0%

125 (MEX/T)

43.0%

2013


165

46.9%


2012

146


42.3%

2011


145

40.4%


2010

88

38.1%



2009

55

39.6%



2008

61

44.0%



2007

49

38.6%



2006

32

44.6%



2005

40

49.4%



2004

24

41.5%



2003

20

37.9%



2002

26

32.8%



2001

34

31.0%



Source:  DEA


UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED

7

DEA Intelligence Report

Although SA heroin continues to be smuggled into the United States by couriers on commercial flights and over 

land from Mexico, 2015 HSP data continues to show a significant decline in the number of SA heroin samples 

seized at U.S. POEs in comparison to 2014.

In 2015, only 17 SA heroin samples obtained from seizures at U.S. POEs (both air and land) were analyzed 

under the HSP (compared to 32 samples in 2014).  Of the 17 SA heroin samples obtained in 2015, 9 were 

airport seizures with the major airports in New York and Florida continuing as the primary arrival points for SA 

heroin couriers.  SFL1 forensic analysis further indicated that SA heroin shipments transported into the United 

States via air couriers contained the adulterants diltiazem and caffeine.  

The number of SA heroin samples seized at U.S. POEs and analyzed through the HSP since 2001 has steadily 

decreased, while the purity has remained relatively stable during the same timeframe.  The decline in the 

amount of SA heroin seized at U.S. POEs is consistent with reports of significant decreases in Colombian 

poppy cultivation in recent years. The reduction in SA heroin production, coupled with increasing levels of 

heroin production in Mexico and transportation activities across the SWB, has had a noticeable impact on SA 

heroin availability in the United States.  Figure 5 summarizes the number and purity of SA heroin samples 

seized and analyzed through the HSP at U.S. POEs from 2001 through 2015.



(U) Figure 5:  Characteristics of South  

American Heroin Seized at U.S. Ports of Entry 

and Analyzed through the DEA Heroin  

Signature Program.

Calendar Year

Number of 

Exhibits 

Average 

Purity 

2015


17

70.0%


2014

32

77.4%



2013

76

71.8%



2012

138


68.2%

2011


150

61.8%


2010

128


54.5%

2009


134

61.9%


2008

141


64.7%

2007


126

64.3%


2006

138


62.0%

2005


185

68.0%


2004

237


72.5%

2003


350

77.1%


2002

376


76.9%

2001


412

81.2%


Source:  DEA

Is it possible for SWA heroin 

to be misclassified as SA,  

MEX-SA, or INC-SA heroin?

SWA heroin has a unique chemical 

signature that displays no similarities 

to the chemical signatures of the 

heroin types produced in either 

South America or Mexico. Due to the 

distinct signature differences, it is not 

possible to misclassify SWA heroin 

as either South American or Mexican 

origin.


DEA’s SFL1 continues to monitor 

SWA heroin production and finds its 

signatures remaining consistent since 

the inception of the HSP.

Over the last 40 years, SFL1 has 

used thousands of authentic samples 

to establish the signature profiles of 

heroin produced in various regions 

of the world. Currently, about 

7,000 authentics are employed to 

classify a heroin sample at a 95 

percent confidence level with four 

independent signature methods.

Source:  DEA




UNCLASSIFIED

8

Inconclusive - South America

The new HSP signature classification of INC-SA is assigned to heroin where either Mexico or South America 

could be the origin, but is produced or refined using South American processing methods.  Due to the heavy 

presence of adulterants or other issues, signature analysis conducted under the HSP is unable to confirm the 

geographic origin of the heroin. 

Heroin classified as INC-SA accounted for 3 percent (by weight) of the heroin analyzed through the HSP in 

both 2014 and 2015.  The weight of INC-SA heroin samples analyzed through the HSP increased from 47 

kilograms (55 samples) in 2014 to 63 kilograms (54 samples) in 2015.  The average purity of INC-SA heroin 

increased significantly, from 39 percent in 2014 to 51 percent in 2015.  HSP data revealed that these INC-

SA heroin samples were obtained from 19 states, the majority of which were in the Eastern United States, 

primarily New York (12 samples), Maryland (5 samples), and Pennsylvania (4 samples).  In addition, one INC-

SA heroin sample submitted to the HSP in 2015 was obtained at the seaport POE in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 

and was transported into Puerto Rico via ferry from the Dominican Republic.   

Southwest Asia

 

Southwest Asian (SWA) heroin accounted for 1 percent of the heroin analyzed (by weight) under the HSP 



in both 2014 and 2015.  The average purity of SWA heroin increased from 35 percent in 2014 to 54 percent 

in 2015.  The primary adulterants identified in SWA heroin samples analyzed under the HSP in 2015 were 

acetaminophen, caffeine, and dextromethorphan; diluents included sucrose, mannitol, and lactose.

SWA heroin continues to be smuggled into the United States primarily via couriers on international flights and 

through international mail delivery services.  Air couriers generally arrive at John F. Kennedy International 

Airport in New York on flights originating in Western Europe or West Africa.  SWA heroin seized at U.S. airports 

from couriers and analyzed through the HSP in 2015 ranged in weight from approximately 23.8 grams to 6.5 

kilograms.

The HSP continues to document the presence of SWA heroin in the United States even though the quantities 

for this heroin type are limited.  Record levels of opium and heroin production in Afghanistan have not led to 

a corresponding rise in SWA heroin availability in the United States.  Based on DEA reporting and seizure 

data, SWA heroin is not shipped to the United States in the bulk (wholesale) quantities needed to sufficiently 

challenge or supplant well-entrenched Mexican heroin distribution networks.  As noted in Figure 1, the total 

weight of SWA heroin samples submitted to the HSP in 2015 increased slightly, from 9 kilograms (16 samples) 

in 2014 to 15 kilograms (25 samples) in 2015, though the percentage by weight remained constant at 1 percent 

for both years.  Until SWA trafficking networks can ensure a consistent flow of high-purity, competitively priced 

heroin while simultaneously expanding their U.S. distribution networks, it is unlikely that SWA heroin will 

significantly increase its presence in the United States in the near term.   



Southeast Asia

 

For the seventh consecutive year, no Southeast Asian (SEA) heroin samples were analyzed in 2015 through 



the HSP.  Although reports indicate opium cultivation in Burma is once again on the rise after a decade of 

decline, this increased level of opium production has not resulted in a concurrent rise in SEA heroin availability 

in the United States.  The majority of SEA opium remains in Asia to meet the demand for opiates in local and 

regional markets.  




UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED

9

DEA Intelligence Report

Outlook

  

Mexico was the primary geographic source of heroin samples submitted to the HSP in 2015, and will likely 



remain the primary source in the near term.  HSP statistics for 2015 revealed that both the purity and weight 

of Mexican-origin heroin seizures increased, and is a strong indicator that Mexican traffickers are aggressively 

expanding and taking greater control of the U.S. heroin market.  They are now producing their own white 

powder heroin and becoming more active in Eastern white powder heroin markets historically supplied by 

Colombian traffickers since the mid-1990s.  Seizures of Mexican-origin heroin at the SWB continue to grow 

and are an indication that Mexican traffickers are increasing their level of heroin production and transportation 

to meet rising demand in the United States.

Although SA heroin remains available in the United States, HSP results for both 2014 and 2015 clearly 

illustrate that South America has become a secondary source of heroin for the U.S. market. Diminished 

levels of SA heroin in the United States are likely the result of decreased levels of opium poppy production 

in Colombia and steadily increasing levels of heroin production in Mexico and subsequent transportation 

activities.

Despite record estimates of opium and heroin production in Afghanistan, and increasing levels of opium 

production in Southeast Asia, HSP statistics indicate that heroin from both of these geographic source regions 

continue to have minimal impact on the U.S. heroin market.



UNCLASSIFIED

10

UNCLASSIFIED

DEA Intelligence Report

(U) Appendix A:  Heroin Source Area Distribution:  1977-2015.


UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED

11

DEA Intelligence Report

(U) APPENDIX B:  1977-2015 HEROIN SIGNATURE PROGRAM RESULTS 

Geographic Source Area Distribution (in percent*) 

Based on Net Weight of Heroin Seized and Analyzed.

Year


Mexico

Southeast 

Asia

Southwest Asia



South America

Inconclusive 

South America

2015


93

0

1



3

3

2014



79

0

1



17

3

2013



54

0

2



44

N/A


2012

45

0



4

51

N/A



2011

50

0



7

43

N/A



2010

33

0



14

53

N/A



2009

34

0



4

62

N/A



2008

38

<1

3

59

N/A



2007

25

<1

5

70

N/A



2006

20

0



4

76

N/A



2005

14

4



13

69

N/A



2004

14

3



14

69

N/A



2003

3

<1

8

88

N/A



2002

9

1



10

80

N/A



2001

30

7



7

56

N/A



2000

17

8



16

59

N/A



1999

24

10



6

60

N/A



1998

17

14



4

65

N/A



1997

14

5



6

75

N/A



1996

20

8



20

52

N/A



1995

5

17



16

62

N/A



1994

5

57



6

32

N/A



1993

8

68



9

15**


N/A

1992


10

58

32



---

N/A


1991

21

58



21

---


N/A

1990


21

56

23



---

N/A


Source:  DEA


UNCLASSIFIED

12

* Percentage based on samples for which a signature was identified. From 1977 through 1991, percentages were

based on the number of samples tested. Since 1992, percentages have been based on the net weight of the heroin

seized and analyzed.

** The signature for heroin from South America was developed in July 1993; therefore, this figure represents only 

partial-year data. (DEA reporting indicates that heroin from South America first was noted in the US in 1991 and that its 

availability increased during the latter half of 1992 as well as in early 1993.)

(U) APPENDIX B:  1977-2015 HEROIN SIGNATURE PROGRAM RESULTS

Geographic Source Area Distribution (in percent*)

Based on Net Weight of Heroin Seized and Analyzed, continued.

Year


Mexico

Southeast 

Asia

Southwest Asia



South America

Inconclusive 

South America

1989


27

56

17



---

N/A


1988

29

46



25

---


N/A

1987


42

25

33



---

N/A


1986

42

22



36

---


N/A

1985


39

14

47



---

N/A


1984

32

17



51

---


N/A

1983


33

19

48



---

N/A


1982

34

14



52

---


N/A

1981


36

10

54



---

N/A


1980

38

11



51

---


N/A

1979


48

13

39



---

N/A


1978

82

15



3

---


N/A

1977


89

9

2



---

N/A


Source:  DEA

Document Outline

  • The 2015 Heroin Signature Program Report
    • Overview
      • Background
      • 2015 Heroin Signature Program Results
      • Mexico
      • South America
      • Inconclusive - South America
      • Southwest Asia
      • Southeast Asia
    • Outlook


Yüklə 106,51 Kb.

Dostları ilə paylaş:




Verilənlər bazası müəlliflik hüququ ilə müdafiə olunur ©www.genderi.org 2022
rəhbərliyinə müraciət

    Ana səhifə