“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

These are the prices for drugs in the L.A. area, according to a list that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) may have accidentally sent to L.A. TACO. The price list, almost menu-like in design, provides both wholesale and street-level pricing on various narcotics, excluding cannabis since its legalization in California and no notable undercover buys of it. Given that information, the list seems to be based on prices paid during undercover buying operations. 
$10 for a “balloon” of Mexican “Black Tar Heroin”

$90 for a gram of Ketamine

$200 for a Peyote Plant

Marked “law enforcement sensitive,” the list includes wholesale, as well as “street,” prices for roughly a dozen varieties of uppers, downers, hallucinogens, and prescription medications. The prices are based on “undercover narcotic operations” led by the L.A. CLEAR Watch Center, a coalition of local law enforcement agencies.

Inflated Methamphetamine Pricing?

The drug price list was sent to an L.A. TACO reporter working on a story about the LAPD appearing to inflate the price of methamphetamine seized during drug raids.

Multiple harm reduction experts, meth users, and meth addiction outreach volunteers told L.A. TACO that the drug usually costs around $20-$40 per gram on the streets. Meanwhile, the LAPD’s estimates for the price of methamphetamine—a notoriously inexpensive drug that can be made from household chemicals—have exceeded $150 per gram when broken down to a per-gram cost.

Law enforcement agencies are notorious for inflating the valuations of drugs by using a “street value” price rather than a wholesale value, but the LAPD’s estimates for the price of meth are significantly higher than even those numbers cited by other local law enforcement agencies.

According to HIDTA’s price list, a single fentanyl pill can cost as little as 30 cents when purchased in quantities of 50,000 pills or more. While a single fluid ounce of Codeine or Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (also known as “the date rape” drug GHB) costs upwards of $95 per fluid ounce.

Undercover fentanyl pill operations have increased in the last year by nearly 50%, according to the report. The drug price list also notes that “kilos of ecstasy powder (Molly) were reported for the first time this quarter.” And it also includes “NEW!” prices for quarter pounds of meth ($300-400) and half ounces of shrooms ($120). A gram of meth costs $20, according to HIDTA’s report, and a pound costs around $700.

Source of Price List

When an L.A. TACO reporter reached out to LAPD Chief Michel Moore about this story and asked what he thought of the estimations, Chief Moore defended the valuations and CC’d several LAPD officers on his response.

“Attached is the price list provided by HIDTA [the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program] as it relates to current trends,” Lillian Carranza, LAPD Assistant Commander, wrote in response to Chief Moore’s email, seemingly without realizing that an L.A. TACO reporter was included on the email chain. “However, the street price is determined by many factors (purity, potency, supply, demand, wholesale, mid-level, distance to source, etc.).”

High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program

The High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA) is a Regan-era initiative created by Congress to provide assistance to local law enforcement “operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.”

The LAPD commander declined to confirm if she intended to send L.A. TACO the report.

Source LA Taco