Key Drug-Related Crime Statistics

  1. 1.6 million Americans are arrested each year for drug related crime.
  2. 80% of prison inmates abuse drugs or alcohol.
  3. 244,000 Americans are sent to prison annually for drug-related crimes.
  4. 26% of all arrests in America are related to drug offenses.
  5. 35% of workplace victims of violence believed the offender was drinking or using drugs.
  6. There are 73,210 prisoners currently sentenced to a federal penitentiary for drug crimes.

Drug-Related Crime Definition

  • Drug-related crimes are defined as a crime by someone who uses, has, creates, or distributes illegal drugs that are listed on the DEA’s Drug Scheduling list. These are drugs labeled as abusive to the individuals consuming them, their families, and their communities.
  • Here, various amphetamines, and other opioids are some examples of drugs classified as abusive. They’re connected to crimes by the impact and effects they have on the consumer’s actions, causing violence by way of drug trafficking and crimes committed to obtain illegal substances.

Total Drug Arrest Statistics

Did you know that 1.6 million Americans are arrested every year due to drug related crime?

Total Drug Arrest Statistics
  • In 2020, there was a large reduction in the number of people being arrested for all drugs throughout the country. Before that year, arrests for drugs were steady between 2010 and 2019.
  • There are 1.16 million Americans arrested every year for manufacturing, selling, and possessing illegal drugs.
  • Arrests made from 2019 to 2020 lowered by more than 400,000, possibly due to shifting attitudes in some regions about the criminalization of illegal substances.
  • Drug apprehensions, including cannabis arrests, total 26% of everyone arrested in the United States.
  • Of all countrywide arrests, marijuana accounts for 11% of them.
marijuana related crimes prevalence

Marijuana Related Crimes Statistics

  • The sale, possession, and manufacture of cannabis as a criminal offense had increasingly lowered over the last ten years and continues to do so. At the beginning of the 2010s, marijuana topped all other drugs that Americans were being arrested for.
  • Every year, 32,357 people in the US are arrested for growing and selling marijuana.
  • Each year, 317,793 Americans are detained for having marijuana in their possession.
  • In the last decade, apprehensions over selling and growing marijuana have decreased by 68%.
  • Arrests made for having cannabis have lowered by 58% in the last 10 years.
marijuana related crimes statistics

Alcohol Related Crimes Statistics

number of yearly deaths due to drunk driving
  • The FBI labels being drunk in public from alcohol as a crime, whereby it’s also labeled a misdemeanor for the prevention of potential crimes taking place while intoxicated. 316,032 people in the US are arrested for being drunk from alcohol every year.
  • 10,511 people die each year from driving while drunk.
  • Every year, 7,334 homicides occur where alcohol was a contributor to each death.
  • The Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that in 2007, 3.9% of the 14,831 homicides in which circumstances were known were narcotics related.
  • Murders that occurred specifically during a narcotics felony, such as drug trafficking or manufacturing, are considered drug related.
  • Before murdering someone, 48% of the perpetrators in prison were under the influence of alcohol when committing the crime.
percent of murderers that were under the influence of alcohol
YearNumber of homicidesPercent drug related

Heroin, Cocaine, and Derivative Products Related Crime Statistics

  • Some of the derivatives of heroin and cocaine are freebase crack cocaine, speedball, and other similar drugs. Sometimes, speedball is considered an adulterated mix of multiple substances. People that are addicted to cocaine are 1000% more likely to use heroin.
  • Each year, 47,380 Americans get arrested for selling and producing cocaine, heroin, speedball, and crack cocaine.
  • Annually, 227,655 Americans are arrested for possessing cocaine, heroin, and their derivatives.
  • In the last 10 years, arrests for manufacturing and selling cocaine, heroin, and their derivatives have decreased by 53%.
  • People caught with heroin, cocaine, and derivative products have been arrested less than ten years ago at a 15% decrease.

Synthetic Drug Crimes Statistics

  • Synthetic drugs are substances made with artificial ingredients while harboring nothing natural. Although the DEA has prohibited many of the ingredients used to make designer drugs, many continue to be used. 17,334 people in America are arrested on an annual basis for selling and manufacturing designer drugs.
  • 40,446 people in the US are apprehended and charged each year for selling and manufacturing synthetic designer drugs.
  • Apprehensions made for manufacturing and selling synthetic drugs lowered are 41% lower than they were in 2010.
  • There was a 40% drop in the number of arrests made by Americans having synthetic drugs over the last ten years.

Drug Crime Rates By State

  • Out of all drug trafficking and possession crimes done in the United States in 2017, Vermont had the highest, with 61.2% of the crimes being done in the state.
  • Connecticut and Hawaii are second and third from Vermont, with 54.8% for Connecticut and 50% for Hawaii.
  • The state with the lowest amount of drug-related crimes in America is New Mexico, with just 15.6% of crimes being committed directly related to illegal drugs.
  • For drug-related offenses by the type of drug used, methamphetamine is most often related to offenses in which people are arrested. Meth is the drug that most people are arrested for in 30 states.
  • The least common controlled substance found in drug-related crimes in the US is marijuana. There are only two states, New Mexico and Arizona, that reported cannabis as the most popular drug related to drug offenses.
  • Arizona has the largest percentage of marijuana-related drug offenses, whereby 74% of every drug offense done in the state is linked to cannabis in some way.
  • Surprisingly, Colorado ranks fourth in the number of marijuana offenses in the country. 26% of every drug crime in the state is related to marijuana. Although marijuana is legal in the majority of states, it remains illegal to possess it on state and federal property.
  • While cannabis is recreationally legal in the states of Vermont and Maine, they have no offenses related to the drug. Still, Delaware, Connecticut, and New Hampshire have no marijuana offenses yet the drug is only legal when used as a prescription.
  • Relating to guilty pleas made for drug crimes, offenders in Delaware, Idaho, Colorado, West Virginia, and New Hampshire are about 100% more likely to make a guilty plea.
  • People that partake in drug crimes in the state of Iowa have a higher chance of contesting drug charges than in every other state, whereby just 93% of drug offense crimes are pleaded guilty to.
  • People committing drug crimes in Delaware are likely to spend time in jail, 100% of drug crimes result in a prison sentence.
  • In the state of Rhode Island, drug offenders have a higher chance of avoiding jail time than the other 49. Just 62.5% of drug crimes end with a prison sentence.

People Sentenced to Prison for Drug-Related Crimes Statistics

number of prisoners due to drug crimes
  • Currently, there are 73,210 prisoners sentenced to a federal penitentiary for drug crimes.
  • There are 171,300 inmates sentenced to time at state prisons for drug offenses.
  • The amount of inmates sentenced to federal prison has lowered by 25% over the last 10 years.
  • In the last decade, inmates sentenced to state prison have dropped by 28%.

People Sentenced to Federal Prison for Drug-Related Crimes Statistics

YearNumber of People Sentenced
  • 46% of the inmates in the federal penitentiaries are sent for offenses relating to drug crimes.
  • Of women sentenced to federal prison, 59% are there for drug crimes.
  • 6,500 of the female prison population are serving time for drug offenses of some kind.
  • Of the male prison population, 45% are doing time for drug charges.
  • Currently, there are 66,700 men in prison for drug-related crimes.
  • About 60% of Hispanic inmates in federal prison are there for drug-related charges.
  • Of the federal prison population, a27% of inmates are parents who grew up with a parent that abused drugs in some fashion.

People Sentenced to State Prison for Drug-Related Crimes Statistics

YearNumber of People Sentenced
  • Of all female state inmates, 26% of them are serving time for offenses relating to drugs.
  • 13% of men in state prison are there for drug offenses of some kind.
  • There are 3.7% of people in state prison with drug possession as their greatest crime.
  • 10.4% of the people doing time in state prison had a different drug charge as the greatest offense, which also includes drug manufacture.
  • 33% of all state and jail inmates who did their crimes to obtain drugs are being paid for them.
  • One out of every six state and jail inmates admitted to using drugs while they were arrested.
  • Of the parents in state prison, 34% of them claim that their parents were drug abusers.
  • 43% of women with children had parents that were alcoholics or users of illegal drugs.
  • 33% of male inmates that have fathered children admit to their parents having alcohol or illegal drug addictions of some kind.

Violent Victimizations Of Residents

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), there were 5.2 million violent victimizations of residents age 12 or older in 2007. Around 26% of the victims of violence reported that the offender was using drugs or alcohol.

College Student Victims Of Drug-Related Crime

41% of violent crimes committed against college students and 38% of nonstudents were committed by an offender perceived to be using drugs, 1995-2000. Around 2 in 5 of all rape/sexual assaults and around 25% of all robberies against a college student were committed by an offender perceived to be using drugs.

Source: BJS, Violent Victimization of College Students

Victims Of Workplace Violence

35% of workplace victims of violence believed the offender was drinking or using drugs. 36% did not know if the offender had been drinking or using drugs. And 27% of all workplace offenders had not been drinking or using drugs.

Source: BJS, Violence in the Workplace, 1993-99


What percentage of crimes in the U.S. are drug-related?

  • 26% of the arrests made in the United States are linked to drug crimes being committed.

How many drug-related homicides occur in the U.S. each year?

  • Based on reporting by the FBI, 3.9% of the homicides that occur are related to drugs, which means that each year, between 500-600 homicides are linked closely to drugs in some way. This includes homicides that occur when perpetrators commit murders with a felony for narcotics possession and distribution.

What are the 4 major drugs that are associated with crimes?

  • The four primary drugs closely linked with violent crimes are heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, and cannabis. They’re listed as the drugs most likely to be abused. Drugs can be linked to crime through the behavior of users, causing violence and other illicit activities that involve drug distribution and trafficking.

What is the correlation between drugs and crime?

  • Drugs can correlate with a crime when they cause one’s physical and psychological state to result in breaking the law, create an urge in someone to steal, or cause a drop in the ability of someone to take medication. There could follow up a rise in crimes listed as retaliatory and predatory.

What percentage of drug users go to jail?

  • The percentage of drug users that go to jail is 20%, which is one out of every five inmates.

What are the 3 types of crimes associated with drugs?

  • The three types of crimes most associated with drugs are drug possession, trafficking, and manufacturing.
  • Drug possession usually receives the lowest charge that someone can get. When someone comes into contact with the police and is caught with drugs, it typically results in them receiving a drug possession charge. Based on information from a marijuana advocacy group, someone facing a drug possession charge has the chance of receiving a sentence higher than 30 years in prison, such as felony possession of marijuana.
  • Drug trafficking is usually charged with lengthier sentences than drug possession. It’s often applied to incidents where narcotics exchanges are done from one country to another, such as drug smugglers moving narcotics from Mexico to the US. One could be charged with such a crime when caught transporting drugs from where they were produced to the distribution point. These acts would all be charged as felonies.
  • Drug manufacturing is also a felony and more basic in the language under the law. It’s handed down to people that are accused of producing or growing illegal substances. If someone’s thought to be involved in the cultivation or production of narcotics and its equivalent, drug manufacturing is the likely charge they’ll face. The length of the sentence is predicated on the type of drug involved and the amount found by law enforcement.

Do drugs cause gun violence?

  • Drugs can cause gun violence. Gun violence usually begins with drug dealers in one area, then gradually moves to other nearby neighborhoods.
  • Drug abuse is strongly related to gun violence in the United States. Due to substance abuse being considered a mental health problem, it’s difficult to set a variance between it and mental health problems as they connect with guns.
  • People with mental illnesses aren’t dangerous. However, while alcohol is often connected to gun violence, researchers don’t think it’s the primary cause of it as a whole. Many people drink regularly and never become violent toward others.
  • Drug users sometimes commit crimes to obtain the drugs that they want. A drug user, for example, might choose to commit robbery to someone unfamiliar to them or even attempt to rob a convenience store out of desperation. Theft of property is another, such as a user stealing items from family members at home to pawn for drug money.