Drug traffickers turning to music videos to reach target audienc - KPTV - FOX 12

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Drug traffickers turning to music videos to reach target audience

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(Courtesy: YouTube) (Courtesy: YouTube)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Some drug trafficking organizations are using music videos that promote “narco culture” to reach their target audience, and a recent heroin bust in Portland was linked to one such video.

Court records from a federal indictment against ten people suspected of distributing heroin shows that at least two of the suspects “planned, commissioned, had produced, and then had published” a video on YouTube “depicting violence, including the brandishing of firearms, to further the trafficking of controlled substances, and for the purpose of enhancing the drug trafficking reputations and thereby the drug distribution capabilities” of the suspects involved.

The video shows armed men stuffing a man into a trunk, and children engaged in cockfighting, among other things. Lyrics to the video include "you are in danger,” “violence is my style” and “Oregon opened its doors, the City of Portland I will always remember.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration handled a similar case in Alaska in January, in which a man was sentenced after being linked to another such video.

In a release, the DEA noted that the videos attempted to portray a "lavish and extravagant lifestyle" tied to the drug trade.

“Members of this conspiracy would record rap and hip hop songs, post videos on YouTube, and perform local shows in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Much of their music glorified the lifestyle of selling illegal narcotics and committing other crimes. The lavish and extravagant lifestyle portrayed in their music and videos was supported by their sales of illegal narcotics.”

Chris Gibson heads up the Oregon-Idaho HIDTA, or High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a counter-drug grant program administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He said the videos are a way for drug traffickers to tell everyone who they are.

“I think a lot of times those are there for advertising purposes, whether it’s to say here’s who we are, here’s what we do, or sometimes it’s even to the point of warning people about this is what we are and this is what we do,” Gibson told Fox 12.

HIDTA works with law enforcement agencies to target high-level wholesale dealers who move illegal narcotics through the region to distribute to street-level criminals.

“For lack of a better term, trying to cut the head off the snake as opposed to chopping pieces of the tail off as you go,” Gibson said.

The organization just released its annual threat assessment and Gibson said the state of Oregon has a “significant” drug trafficking threat.

“What we found is not that dissimilar to what we found in previous years, and right now the number one drug trafficking threat that exists in this region anyway is methamphetamine, followed by heroin, followed by prescription drugs, synthetic drugs, then marijuana and cocaine,” Gibson explained. “Most of the significant drug threat that we see is originated in Mexico, coming up through California, through Arizona to a certain extent, and making its way to Oregon.”

One of the most common corridors in Oregon used for trafficking is I-5 because it starts at the Mexican border and continues up into Canada, providing an expressway of sorts for criminal activity.

“It’s an easy way to get drugs, and really any commerce items, into the state,” Gibson said, adding that many of the drug traffickers HIDTA targets are connected to Mexican cartels.

Over the last decade, Gibson said drug seizures in Oregon have become more common, and the quantities of narcotics being taken off the streets are also growing. There’s been a resurgence in heroin over the last several years, while methamphetamine continues to be a major threat in the state and cocaine is making its way back, too.

“The unfortunate part is, the United States, and I’m speaking in very broad terms here, has a very big appetite for drugs, and that appetite feeds specifically to Oregon,” Gibson said. “That appetite feeds the supply and feeds these drug trafficking organizations. They’re there to meet a need that does exist.”

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