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AP IMPACT: Deadly, ultra-pure heroin arrives in US

Posted by on May. 24, 2010 at 5:50 PM
  • 4 Replies

 

WINFIELD, Mo. – Mexican drug smugglers are increasingly peddling a form of ultra-potent heroin that sells for as little as $10 a bag and is so pure it can kill unsuspecting users instantly, sometimes before they even remove the syringe from their veins.

An Associated Press review of drug overdose data shows that so-called "black tar" heroin - named for its dark, gooey consistency - and other forms of the drug are contributing to a spike in overdose deaths across the nation and attracting a new generation of users who are caught off guard by its potency.

"We found people who snorted it lying face-down with the straw lying next to them," said Patrick O'Neil, coroner in suburban Chicago's Will County, where annual heroin deaths have nearly tripled - from 10 to 29 - since 2006. "It's so potent that we occasionally find the needle in the arm at the death scene."

Authorities are concerned that the potency and price of the heroin from Mexico and Colombia could widen the drug's appeal, just as crack did for cocaine decades ago.

The Latin American heroin comes in the form of black tar or brown powder, and it has proven especially popular in rural and suburban areas.

Originally associated with rock stars, hippies and inner-city junkies, heroin in the 1970s was usually smuggled from Asia and the Middle East and was around 5 percent pure. The rest was "filler" such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, even brick dust. The low potency meant that many users injected the drug to maximize the effect.

But in recent years, Mexican drug dealers have improved the way they process poppies, the brightly colored flowers supplied by drug farmers that provide the raw ingredients for heroin, opium and painkillers such as morphine. Purity levels have increased, and prices have fallen.

Federal agents now commonly find heroin that is 50 percent pure and sometimes as much as 80 percent pure.

The greater potency allows more heroin users to snort the drug or smoke it and still achieve a sustained high - an attractive alternative for teenagers and suburbanites who don't want the HIV risk or the track marks on their arms that come with repeated injections.

"That has opened up heroin to a whole different group of users," said Harry Sommers, the agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency office in St. Louis.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100524/ap_on_re_us/us_drug_war_mexican_heroin

by on May. 24, 2010 at 5:50 PM
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Replies (1-4):
tericared
by on May. 24, 2010 at 5:54 PM

 The US really needs to step up and try and get people off of these hard core drugs, it is nearly impossible to shut down drug houses, or keep dealers locked up or send users to rehab.....Some laws need to change...

tericared
by on May. 24, 2010 at 10:16 PM

 Everyone complains about drugs coming from Mexico, but wont comment on the oddles of people in the US who buy and use those drugs?

cat0308
by on May. 25, 2010 at 8:27 AM

bump for later

cat0308
by on May. 25, 2010 at 12:49 PM

I agree that this needs to be dealt with on both ends, suppliers and users.

Unfortunately, with intensity of the drug, the suppliers  may have some extremely addicted surviving users. That is if they don't kill them first. 

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