Illegal Drugs:

Observations and Selected Data Concerning Portland, Maine

GGD-90-86: Published: May 14, 1990. Publicly Released: Jun 15, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) the extent of illegal drug activity in Portland, Maine; and (2) Portland's efforts to combat such activity.

GAO found that: (1) over the last 20 years, drug traffickers have primarily smuggled marijuana into Maine and southern New England; (2) since 1983, cocaine, heroin, and LSD use in Maine has increased; (3) it could not accurately determine the extent to which illegal drug activity affected other types of crime in Portland and Maine, but officials believed that cocaine had a major influence on property and violent crimes; (4) in a 1987 survey, Maine reported that criminal organizations contributed to more than 20 percent of the drug trafficking activities, and a local motorcycle gang was believed to be involved in hallucinogenic substance distribution; (5) Maine recently passed laws designed to strengthen its efforts against illegal drugs and established a state agency to develop, coordinate, and carry out a statewide drug enforcement program; (6) the agency began operation in April 1988 and made 377 arrests in its first year, of which half involved cocaine; (7) Portland's police department's total 1989 budget was about $5.7 million, of which 10 percent went to drug enforcement efforts; (8) in 1989, Portland police made over 360 arrests for illegal drug crimes; (9) the greater Portland area had a significantly higher crime rate than other urban and rural areas in the state; (10) Maine experienced overcrowding in its prisons, mostly attributable to crimes involving illegal drug activity; and (11) a Maine substance abuse treatment center recently increased its staff, but counselors were hampered by a lack of operating space within the facility.

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