President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs” in June 1971, ramping up law enforcement efforts and enacting harsher penalties for drug offenses. These policies were ostensibly designed to curb rising rates of recreational drug use. But now, half a century later, the measures have proven to be an abject failure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths increased nearly every year in the United States over the last two decades, topping 100,000 for the first time in 2021. Meanwhile, American prison populations have swelled with nonviolent drug offenders. Over 45% of federal prison inmates today are incarcerated for drug offenses.
While the war on drugs remains ongoing, public support for it has faded. As of July 2022, 19 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana use. Similarly, many state and local governments have reduced drug penalties in recent years, shifting their focus to treatment programs rather than incarceration. (Here is a look at the states where the most prisoners are exonerated.)
Still, in many parts of the country, drug offenses remain a target for law enforcement. Using 2020 data from the FBI, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 25 cities in Texas with the most drug offenses. Cities are ranked by the number of drug violation incidents reported by law enforcement for every 100,000 people. Only cities with populations of at least 25,000 were considered.
Drug crimes are classified by the FBI as crimes against society, a broad category that also includes animal cruelty, gambling offenses, prostitution, and weapons violations. In every city on this list, drug crimes accounted for over 75% of all crimes against society in 2020 – and in 10 of these places, they accounted for over 20% of the total number of reported crimes. (Here is a look at the county with the worst drug problem in every state.)
Among the places on this list, rates of drug violations range from 858 incidents per 100,000 people to over 1,400 per 100,000. Nine of these cities fall within the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, including four that are located partially or entirely within Tarrant County.
Click here to see cities in Texas reporting the most drug offenses.
Click here to see our detailed methodology.
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