Staff note: Dated story that belongs here.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Heroin is re-emerging in the Louisville area, the result of Mexican drug-traffickers marketing to a new generation, federal authorities said.
Since July, a drug task force of federal and local police has confiscated more than two pounds of heroin with a street value of about $200,000, including two pounds recently in nearby Charlestown, Ind.
Such amounts were unheard of in recent years, Tony King, resident agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration office in Louisville, told The Courier-Journal.
While Louisville police and health officials haven't seen a noticeable surge in the drug's use, King said the recent confiscations could foreshadow problems.
An annual National Drug Threat Assessment report released in October said Mexican heroin circulating in western states was spreading east of the Mississippi. It said abusers of opiates prescribed as painkillers, such as OxyContin, might be switching to heroin, as efforts to curb prescription-drug abuse take hold.
"Heroin took a back stage for a while," King said, "but now it's being marketed again to a new generation."
Before this year, heroin in the Louisville area "had all but disappeared," King said. The local drug task force didn't handle a single heroin trafficking case in 2005, he said. But this fall, three illegal Mexican immigrants were indicted on federal charges of participating in a heroin distribution conspiracy that carry a possible life sentence and deportation.
Seized in those arrests was "black tar heroin," so named because it looks like hot asphalt, said King, adding that it can be injected or smoked.
Janice Cunningham, a substance abuse supervisor for the Louisville Health Department, said its methadone clinic, where heroin addicts are treated, has not seen an increase in clients. But she noted an increase in younger heroin users -- those 21 to 28 years old. The median age of the 186 addicts being treated at the clinic is 41, two years younger than in 2004, she said.
Across Kentucky, 274 people received treatment for heroin use in a state center in the year that ended Sept. 30, compared with 218 the previous year.
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