Mexico's powerful drug cartels including the Sinaloa cartel have become the United States' top suppliers of illegal narcotics, a Justice Department report said Tuesday.
"Mexican-based TCOs (transnational criminal organizations) dominate the supply, trafficking, and wholesale distribution of most illicit drugs in the United States," the annual report on illegal drug threats says in part.
Of the seven cartels doing business in the United States -- the Sinaloa, Los Zetas, el Golfo, Juarez, Beltran-Leyva, La Familia Michoacana and Tijuana -- only the Sinaloa has "its extensive distribution network (which) supplies drugs to all regions of the United States."
"It is one of the few TCOs that can obtain multi-ton quantities of cocaine from South America as well as produce large quantities of heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine," the report stressed.
Most of the illegal drug shipments are across the US-Mexican border but there also has been an increase in the number of alternative methods of transport used including boats and light aircraft, the report added.
The influence of the Mexican cartels was also around to stay for some time, the report warned.
"Major Mexican-based TCOs will continue to dominate wholesale drug trafficking in the United States for the foreseeable future and will further solidify their positions through collaboration with US gangs," it said.
Mexican authorities claim more than 35,000 lives have been lost since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels in late 2006. Media reports put the total toll at nearer 41,000, including criminals, security forces and civilians.
So far, the bloodletting has not spread across the US border as have the narcotics, the US report said.
Another alarming conclusion: the report found young people's use of illegal drugs was again on the rise after some years of decline.
"The abuse of several major illicit drugs, including heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine, appears to be increasing, especially among the young," the report said.