29 Aug Drug Crime Statistics in Georgia
Georgia is a unique state when it comes to conducting research. Criminal career research is no exception. While Georgia is one of the most rapidly growing states across the US, one filled with a large mixture of ethnicities and racially diverse communities, it also has a massive crime and arrest rate. When it comes to conducting research on crime, Georgia was the first state to implement an AFIS (automated fingerprint identification system).
Given that there’s a high volume of crime, a booming population, and a system in which to record criminal activity, the state provides fantastic structure to conduct criminal research. That’s why it’s often Georgia that provides crucial data in quantifying criminal activity and researching ways in which to mitigate it.
Before we continue it’s important you know the crime index of the US has dropped in the last decade. Due to a series of national programs and proactive leaders as unemployment fell so too did crime. Thus normally you would gander that drug crime dropped in alignment with the rest of ‘regular crime.’ Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Historically, drugs beget more crime. Being that it’s a criminal activity and an illicit industry, often what follows is a negative impact on said community facing a higher volume of drug trafficking or importation. To continue down this ladder, when there’s a higher supply of drugs in a community it’s more likely to expose victims and turn out addicts. When more addicts live in a neighborhood, there’s a higher likelihood crime will be committed. This is due largely in part that their actions are often motivated by their quest for drugs or the funds in which to obtain them.
Now more than ever it seems to be a time in which to study Georgia’s history of drug crime. Since the birth of the opioid epidemic, Georgia has been impacted heavily by foreign illegal street drugs, a spike in opioid and heroin overdoses, and an evolution in the demographic of addicts. So the question then becomes: with this new wave of addiction affecting us nationally, is crime in the areas most afflicted rising?
Let’s Start With What’s Happening in Georgia.
People are dying. There’s no melodrama or exaggeration in that statement. Quite literally—the opioid epidemic is causing a spike in overdoses across the state and the situation remains to be out of hand. Now that fentanyl has been introduced and replicated, an opioid 100 times more powerful than heroin per microgram, the situation took a deadly turn.
From 1999-2017, overdose from prescription medication in Georgia has quadrupled. That, of course, coincides with the national prescription rate, as that quadrupled as well. Still, within the last three years in Georgia, we’ve seen a spike in opioid-related overdoses, while all other types of overdoses have remained stable or even decreased slightly.
When you have a state like Georgia, one vast enough to be the railroad for drug smuggling, the current trend is going to be satisfied. This means with the opioid epidemic criminals in Georgia are striving to supply counterfeit pills, stolen pills, and heroin. Because of this new wave of prescription-pill addicts, one that begets a demographic not commonly known to make up a large portion of addict groups, heroin use is increasing in accordance with opioids. Opioids are expensive and hard to sustain. Heroin is everywhere and cheaper than it has ever been. Both derive from the opium family. In this vein, heroin becomes a plausible substitute for painkillers.
This means the demand for both painkillers and heroin increases alongside the addiction and overdose rate, which sparks a rush of drug dealers all trying to solidify their place in the market. Yet other drugs have plateaued and continue to remain constant. Meth is further north. Cocaine is everywhere but it’s not killing people like painkiller and heroin, nor is it turning out more addicts.
In short: opioids and heroin have flooded Georgia’s streets. New addicts are starting with painkillers and migrating to heroin. People are dying. Question is, does this beget drug-crime?
An Overview of Georgia Drug Crime Statistics
First off, by in large crime has dropped across the board. In fact for the entire violent crime index alone, we’ve seen a 25% decrease from 1990 until now. When we isolate murder, it’s even less, coming in right at 29%. Robbery even more so; it has dropped 33% since then. Drug-related crime arrests have decreased 15% since the 1990s, putting those on the ‘decreased list’ too.
This issue with this is that although this is UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) data, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Georgia has seen a drop in drug arrests. Historically, different states use UCR arrest statistics as a crutch to identify certain trends. But the UCR often compiles certain lists with what they define as the ‘most serious drug’ charges.
Thus when you compile all arrests that have any essence of drug-related activity (as this is often used to understand how prevalent drugs are within a territory) you come to see that drug-related crime arrests have actually increased since 1990, with a sharp spike right before the recession hit, a decline afterwards, and now we’re seeing another increase. But within that, felony-arrests, that’s to say the most serious, has actually somewhat decreased since the 1990s.
Interestingly, a recession is normally a time that begets crime and volatility. As the country starts to run out of money, poverty and desperation lead to an increase in crime. But with Georgia, the data doesn’t reflect that. The data shows a steep drop after 2008 and onwards to the rise that we’re seeing again.
Problem is, it’s hard to quantify because a sound argument can be made against the efficiency of law enforcement agencies. The recession was nationwide and thousands were laid off from their jobs. During this time—and with already straining budgets—thousands of law enforcement officials (specifically police officers) were laid off. Without as much ground support, not only do the arrests lessen, but so to do the reports.
Thus when taking Georgia’s drug crime statistics when can deduce two things: by in large they’ve increased as a whole since the 90’s but lack the severity of pre 90’s, and are now on the rise again. Just now it’s rapid.
What is Currently Happening in Georgia?
Currently, the entire crime index of Georgia remains stable. It follows the same trend as the year before and is even slightly lower. Remember that all crime data is released in retro, meaning we won’t know the entirety of the data until 1-2 years after it has been made public. Thus, with the growing opioid problem in Georgia, we have to consult local authorities for a gage on the problem.
Their answer? It’s certainly increasing. Due to the increased demand for prescription pills, they’ve seen a slew of new arrests surrounding counterfeit prescription pills and fentanyl. But since—as stated previously—these addicts are switching to heroin, the Mexican cartels have caught wind of this demand and began streamlining their heroin across the border and into Atlanta.
In fact, the state senator Renee Unterman of Buford just recently came out and spoke on the social implications of the heroin and fentanyl impact in Georgia, and explicitly stated that it’s increasing crime.
A direct correlation can be made with the growing number of pharmacies robbed in Georgia. Because government regulation has begun cracking down on the production and prescribing of opioids, the supply has lessened. While illegal pill mills and dealers strive to replicate the molecular structure of opioids to produce counterfeit pills, they don’t always meet market demand. Couple that with the fact that law enforcement agencies are cracking down on pill mills and hello desperation.This now puts Georgia in the top ten states with the most armed robberies of pharmacies. In the past year, the DEA claims over $100,000 worth of prescription pills have been stolen from pharmacies. There’s a video of a thief wielding a sledgehammer and breaking into a Snellville pharmacy where he was able to steal thousands of dollars with of pills. In December, a crew of burglars stole around $10,000 worth of oxycodone from a Walgreens in Stockbridge. Then right in the beginning of this year, an armed robbery occurred at a pharmacy in Forsyth County which hadn’t been robbed in years.
This now puts Georgia in the top ten states with the most armed robberies of pharmacies. In the past year, the DEA claims over $100,000 worth of prescription pills have been stolen from pharmacies. There’s a video of a thief wielding a sledgehammer and breaking into a Snellville pharmacy where he was able to steal thousands of dollars with of pills. In December, a crew of burglars stole around $10,000 worth of oxycodone from a Walgreens in Stockbridge. Then right in the beginning of this year, an armed robbery occurred at a pharmacy in Forsyth County which hadn’t been robbed in years.
These are a few of the examples that directly relate crime to the opioid epidemic affecting our nation. Our point: crime is increasing, drug dealers are desperate to hit market demand, and Mexican cartels are trying to capitalize on that very market demand by infiltrating Georgia with their own homegrown heroin.
We suspect as the agencies continue to report on the problem, the data is going to directly reflect what we’ve seen with opioid-related overdoses. Since the war against opioids is one that remains far out of our control, the demand is untouched. Criminals will commit crimes to meet this demand. This is simple economics and the historical trend of illicit drug trafficking.
What is Being Done to Right this Problem?
The government is trying to crack down on dealers and suppliers that contribute to market supply. Are they doing it effectively? At this point, unfortunately, that answer is no. Opioids—both real and replicated—are still on the streets in Georgia.
CARA is a six-pillar system that the government recently passed which deals directly with the opioid and heroin problem. Their aim is to spread awareness, offer resources for addicts, supply an abundance of naloxone (the drug used to mitigate and correct a heroin overdose), develop disposal sites for companies to rid of the ingredients used in making these medications (in so that they’re not stolen), and then launch certain platforms related to heroin and opioid prevention.
We haven’t seen much success but it’s a relatively new platform. There’s also the Georgia Prevention Program which offers a similar process, but also tends to under deliver. Nationally—we’re seeing huge police crackdowns on drug dealers. They’re trying to remove their incentive to sell hard drugs and thus upping the penalty for trafficking them. In fact, in some states, those that are in the possession of fentanyl (even if they’re not caught for distribution), are being tried for murder rather than the intent to distribute.
Then to tackle the problem at large, the government is trying to install platforms which help train doctors on the effects of opioids. Since a vast amount of addiction comes directly from a prescription canister, monitoring the way painkillers are prescribed within the United States could directly affect the addiction rate, which would then drop market demand and in turn reduce market supply (or the motivation to meet it).
Then President Trump recently signed an order for the presidential commission to combat the opioid epidemic. Within the order it’s stated they’re going assign more federal tax dollars to combat drug addiction as a whole, examine the availability and structure of current addiction treatment centers (and identify where there needs to be more of them), dissect state-wide prescription drug monitoring programs to assess whether or not they’re successful, and try to create the best campaign to promote awareness for the issue moving forward.
It’s not everything we were promised when he first took the seat, but it’s definitely movement in the right direction.
Is There an End in Sight?
Right now it’s hard to say we have any sort of control on the problem. Addiction and overdose rates continue to spike, criminal organizations continue to inject their opioids and opiates into our communities, and doctors continue to overprescribe painkillers. But the reality is that this epidemic is has reached a point where it’s no longer ignorable. The fact that our president has to address the issue is cause for the entire nation to be aware of it. If this awareness increases, more infrastructure is raised to help prevent future addicts and help those currently addicted, and the government continues to crackdown on drug dealers and trafficking, then we certainly have a fighting chance.
But when it comes to Georgia in specific and their drug crime statistics—while they seem relatively stable on paper, officials say in the last couple years there have been alarming increases. This is completely fueled by the opioid problem, and it’s a problem that’s only going to worsen if we don’t do something about it.
“GBI Crime Statistics Database” Georgia Bureau of Investigation. 28 Feb. 2019. https://gbi.georgia.gov/gbi-crime-statistics-database
“Crime Statistics” Georgia Bureau of Investigation. 28 Feb. 2019. https://gbi.georgia.gov/crime-statistics
“Georgia Crime” Neighborhood Scout. 28 Feb. 2019. https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ga/crime