Ultra-pure heroin arrives in US

By chillinwill · May 24, 2010 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    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.
    View attachment 14819
    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.

    Among the drug's casualties was William Henderson, a 29-year-old welder from rural Missouri who died in his sleep in 2009, hours after snorting heroin. A bear of a man at 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds, he had tried the drug only a few times.

    His wife recalled waking up to find the alarm buzzing. Her husband's body had turned blue, and his stomach was cold to the touch.

    "I kept telling him, 'Will, you're late — get up!" said Amanda Henderson of Winfield, Mo., northwest of St. Louis. "But he wasn't moving, wasn't breathing. I called 911, but I knew it was too late." She and her three small boys were left destitute.

    An increasing amount of the deadliest heroin appears to be coming from Mexico. Although the vast majority still arrives from overseas, Mexican dealers appear to be chipping away at the U.S. market.

    As recently as two years ago, state and federal drug agents saw heroin arriving from Colombia, Asia and Mexico. But as the availability and quality of cocaine and methamphetamine have declined, Mexican smugglers have stepped up heroin shipments to the U.S.

    Independent Mexican smugglers have the market largely to themselves because the major drug cartels only dabble in heroin, preferring to focus on locally grown marijuana and Colombian cocaine, according to a DEA official in El Paso, Texas. The agent spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing security concerns and his ongoing role in active drug investigations.

    Heroin metabolizes in the body so quickly that medical examiners often cannot pinpoint the drug as a cause of death unless there is other evidence to back it up — say, a needle or a syringe found near the body. Also, many victims use multiple drugs and alcohol, so citing a specific substance is often impossible.

    At the start of the decade, roughly 2,000 people a year died from heroin overdoses nationwide, according to records kept by the Centers for Disease Control. By 2008, the drug was blamed for at least 3,000 deaths in the 36 states that responded to records requests from the AP. Deaths from 2009 have not yet been compiled.

    The AP contacted agencies in all 50 states, as well as officials in the District of Columbia and New York City, including medical examiners, coroners and health departments. The survey showed that heroin deaths rose 18.2 percent from 2007 to 2008, and 20.3 percent from 2006 to 2008.

    Law enforcement officials and drug-treatment experts believe those statistics woefully undercount the actual number of deaths. And they fear the problem is getting worse: Seizures of heroin along the U.S.-Mexico border quadrupled from 2008 to 2009, from about 44 pounds (20 kilograms) to more than 190 pounds (86 kilograms).

    In the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, more than 20 deaths were blamed on heroin in 2009. DEA analysis of heroin purchased undercover found the drug was nearly 60 percent pure — the highest average purity in the U.S. At the same time, the price was among the lowest.

    "This is consistent with how crack cocaine was introduced in the 1970s, when it was a high-purity product sold at a low price," said Carol Falkowski, director of the alcohol and drug abuse division for the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

    To hook new users, dealers are selling heroin cheap — often around $10 a bag. The new users included Billy Roberts, the 19-year-old son of a retired Chicago police officer. Last September, he slumped over dead of a heroin overdose at a friend's house.

    John Roberts had moved his family to Will County when Billy was just entering high school.

    "I thought I was moving away from problems like that," Roberts said. "These kids out here are being introduced to real serious drugs, dirt cheap, and they don't know how pure and dangerous they are."

    Roberts now speaks to high school and civic groups about the dangers of heroin.

    Independent Mexican smugglers like Jose Antonio Medina Arreguin pay the cartels for access to lucrative trade routes used to sneak drugs across the border and along U.S. highways.

    Medina, also known as "Don Pepe," was arrested earlier this year in Mexico on suspicion of running a $10 million-a-month heroin smuggling business from the western Mexico state of Michoacan. With the permission of the area's powerful La Familia cartel, he is believed to have shipped as much as 440 pounds a month into the U.S. for street sales from San Diego to San Jose.

    Glendale, Calif., often ranks among the safest cities of its size. But police are concerned about a growing heroin problem tied to Mexican street gangs from nearby Los Angeles. Gang members make the quick drive up Interstate 5 to deliver heroin straight to high school kids.

    "They tell them, 'Just smoke it. It's just like smoking a cigarette. It's just like smoking marijuana,'" said Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz. Once the kids are hooked, "they've got a customer forever."

    The trip up I-5 also leads to Oregon, where state Medical Examiner Karen Gunson said the heroin problem is worst in communities along the interstate. The state had 131 heroin-related overdose deaths last year — 42 more than three years earlier.

    The dead simply didn't know the risks of the heroin they used, she said.

    "We're seeing it sometimes 80 percent pure," Gunson said. "There's no FDA approval on this stuff. If you're using it every day, your chances grow and grow that it's going to kill you."

    That's what happened to Nikki Tayon. A decade ago, she helped lead the high school softball team from Winfield to second place in the state. But it wasn't long after high school that she began using drugs such as marijuana and meth. A couple of years ago, she turned to heroin.

    Last April, her mother, Sue Tayon, got a call from a ranger at Cuivre River State Park. Nikki's purse and cell phone had been found, and rangers were looking for her. Hours later came the gruesome news: Nikki's body was discovered in a ditch. She was 28.

    She had overdosed on heroin that was 90 percent pure, her mother said. Police said her boyfriend panicked and dumped Nikki from the car. No charges were filed.

    "I know she was doing it," Sue Tayon said. "But she didn't deserve to die this way."

    May 24, 2010
    Associated Press

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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Stupid Drug Story of the Week
    The Associated Press on the arrival of "deadly, ultra-pure heroin."

    Yesterday, the Associated Press moved a story completely devoid of historical context. The piece, titled "Deadly, Ultra-Pure Heroin Arrives in U.S.," claims that in "recent years"—a time frame that goes undefined—Mexican dealers have started peddling "ultra-potent" black tar heroin and are selling it for as little as $10 a bag.

    In alarmist prose, the article asserts that the ultra-smack's purity ranges from 50 percent to 80 percent heroin, up from the 5 percent purity of the 1970s, and this potency is "contributing to a spike in overdose deaths across the nation." But reports of high-potency heroin being sold in the United States are anything but "recent." My source? The AP itself. Over the decades, the wire service has repeatedly reported on the sale of high-potency heroin on the streets. Here are a few examples of AP coverage culled from Nexis.

    Aug. 15, 2006: "Mexican black tar heroin, a dark and sticky substance, is usually only 30 percent to 40 percent pure, well below the purity of Colombian heroin. But some heroin seized in this case was 85 percent pure, officials said."

    Dec. 12, 2004: "Federal Drug Enforcement [Administration] tests of heroin samples obtained from New Jersey streets showed 71.4 percent purity in 2002, nearly twice the national average."

    July 4, 2004: "New England heroin can be up to 90 percent pure, while the national average is 57 percent. ..."

    Nov. 16, 2002: "Officers recently intercepted a 'significant' amount of white heroin that was 87 percent pure. ..."

    Dec. 9, 2001: "Some heroin being sold is as much as 95 percent pure."

    June 16, 2001: "The DEA was alarmed to find that the ring was selling $10 street doses of heroin, weighing .05 grams, that were 60 percent to 85 percent pure heroin. ..."

    June 16, 2000: " 'This is the first time we've seen a Mexico-based criminal organization go coast-to-coast, also hitting Alaska and Hawaii, with heroin at 60 to 90 percent purity levels,' Donnie R. Marshall, DEA administrator, said. ...."

    June 15, 2000: "A user could buy a half-gram of 60 percent to 85 percent pure heroin for $10."

    July 15, 1999: "While heroin trafficking is not a new phenomenon in northeast Massachusetts, [U.S. Attorney Donald] Stern said recent shipments of confiscated heroin have shown purity levels of more than 90 percent."

    Jan. 17, 1999: "While South Florida heroin tests 30 percent pure, the [Florida Department of Law Enforcement] crime lab in Orlando routinely finds street-level doses up to 97 percent pure."

    July 23, 1998: "We were finding heroin up there that was 37 to 70 percent pure," [Julio] Mercado [head of the Dallas DEA office] said."

    July 2, 1998: "Mexican heroin now averages at 50 percent to 60 percent purity, according to U.S. DEA figures."

    July 15, 1996: "Tests done on traces of heroin found in the musicians' room at the Regency Hotel revealed a purity of 60 to 70 percent, police said. Most street heroin hovers between 50 and 60 percent—considered high enough to snort or smoke, yet low enough to inject, which is riskier."

    Sept. 30, 1994: "A decade ago, purity levels of heroin sold on the street averaged 7 percent. Most street heroin hovers between 50 and 60 percent—considered high enough to snort or smoke, yet low enough to inject, which is riskier."

    Aug. 31, 1994: "Today, the purity of street heroin hovers between 45 percent and 65 percent—high enough to smoke or snort, yet still low enough to inject with syringes."

    Sept. 21, 1992: " 'This is kind of scary,' said [Boston] Deputy Police Superintendent James Wood, commander of drug control. 'All of a sudden we've got 65 percent purity on the street at $20 a bag.' "

    Oct. 3, 1989: "Tests showed the heroin had a 36 percent to 38 percent purity, said [San Francisco Police Department] Lt. Jim Mollinari."

    Dec. 26, 1988: " 'When I first joined the force you'd see heroin 5, 10 percent pure. Now it's 50 to 60 percent pure,' said [New Bedford, Mass.] Detective Richard Spirlet."

    Jan. 20, 1985: "Two men died from 57 percent pure heroin on Jan. 11 and one on Jan. 14, compared with only one heroin-related death in all of 1984, [Miami] authorities said."

    Also, the AP article makes a botch of its attempt to connect heroin potency with a "spike in heroin overdose deaths across the nation." To begin with, 25 years of AP reporting indicates that high-potency heroin has been widely available for some time, so it's silly to start blaming it for a recent increase of deaths. And second, the AP gives no sense that its methodology, in which it counts 3,000 heroin deaths in 36 states in 2008, is the same as that used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to count 2,000 deaths a year at the beginning of the decade. The comparison could be apples to oranges—or apples to salamanders. We just don't know.

    Another problem with the AP piece is that it never defines death by heroin overdose. Is that a death in which only heroin is consumed? Or does it include deaths in which other drugs are taken in combination with heroin?

    The question isn't pedantic. As it turns out, death by heroin alone is relatively uncommon, according to a 2008 study by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Medical Examiners Commission. The study (PDF) analyzed the cases of all 8,620 people 1) who died in the state during 2007; 2) whose death led to a medical examiner's report; and 3) who had one or more major drug (including alcohol) onboard when they died.

    In only 17 of the 110 heroin-related deaths was heroin the only drug onboard. In most cases of heroin-related death, decedents take other drugs that depress the central nervous system—other opiates, alcohol, sedatives, etc. The dangers of "polydrug use," as some call it, have been well understood for some time. A survey of the medical literature published in Addiction in 1996 titled "Fatal Heroin 'Overdose': A Review" warns against attributing all deaths in which evidence of heroin is present as "heroin overdoses." The authors write:

    In a substantial proportion of cases, blood morphine levels alone [the body converts heroin into morphine] cannot account for the fatal outcome of a heroin "overdose." It appears that a great many "overdoses" are in fact fatalities due to multiple drug use. ... For a substantial number of heroin-related fatalities, then, heroin "overdose" may be a misnomer.

    Moral of the story: Don't take heroin, but if you must, never mix it with other drugs.
    A final point. The AP story makes a big deal about how falling heroin prices make the drug irresistible. "To hook new users, dealers are selling heroin cheap—often around $10 a bag," the story reports. But there's nothing new about that price. As an AP story cited above reports, bags of "60 percent to 85 percent pure heroin" were selling for $10 in 2000.

    By Jack Shafer
    Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2010, at 6:53 PM ET

  2. xJSL
    Hmm. Swim is not a heroin user, but has several friends that are. Swim will urge them to be careful with what they are doing and watchig the dosing. Thank you for posting this. This could be a life saver for some Swimmers.
  3. mickey_bee
    It is also a ridiculous making-news-out-of-nothing 'story'.

    As Terrapinz posted, the media is always pumping out the same old shit about 'deadly, super-potent, instantly addictive etc etc'. Just because they're having a slow day at the newsroom they recycle this very very old story.

    Yes there is some extremely potent heroin in the US.........but there's also some extremely crap heroin in the US, it's just the way it is. This 'sudden' spike they talk about is pure sensationalist BS.
  4. Ghetto_Chem
    Swims friend wishes it was true that this was all BS but some of what they say really isn't. Of course they are trying to make it sound like its the Mexicans Black Tar to blame which is stupid as black tar is pretty much the shittiest/impure H you can source. Its an article to try to gain support for the war on drugs in Mexico. But the part on Ultra Pure Heroin being in the US is still true.

    Swim has lived in areas where heroin is at its purest. And he has watched over the years as the heroin problem in his area evolved. When he was young the main drug was cocaine and in high school that was the "hard" drug of choice. But over the past four years heroin has definitely replaced cocaine as the hard drug kids are seeking out. The heroin problem pretty much hit as he was getting out of high school, it went from a drug nobody could even get or really heard of anyone doing, to an easily accessible drug at high purity. Of course people further down the line get cut up product as junkies like to make money from other junkies, but it wasn't too hard to work up the ladder and source the good stuff.

    Now one thing that is really bullshit about that article is how "cheap" this heroin is... It really isn't cheap at all unless high up the ladder, of course price discussion is prohibited, but to get the good dope no matter where, its not gonna be the cheap 10 bags on the street corner.

    Swims friend understands he sounds just like the people in those articles but its alot of what they say is the truth. The small towns of the midwest in USA is pretty much becoming a heroin wasteland.

  5. runnerupbeautyqueen
    In my area all that is available is tar and it has gotten a lot better. Recently there were thirty guys in this heroin dealing ring who were arrested and everyone was freaking out thinking the city was about to dry up. That didn't happen but what did happen is the stuff we are getting now is 2x as good for only a few more dollars. I used to do a gram a day to feel okay and now a gram will last me four day if I'm not trying to conserve and even longer if I am. I read a report that said heroin use is up 200x in my city and the emergency rooms are getting flooded with heroin overdoses. Obviously it's nothing like what you guys are getting on the East coast or anything but for those of us used to shitty tar it's been a huge improvement.
  6. frog
    Make it FDA approved?
  7. inazone
    My wolf beliefs 6-MAM or Black Tar is not in the same league with China White or Columbian Dirty white or Mexican Brown and other grades my wolf has yet to experience or gain knoweledge of. However if Herion in general was consistantlly of a superior grade, it would seem I.V. Use may decline, which in the wolves hungry opinion would be an over-all improvement.
  8. doc_john
    Isn't pure heroin a liquid. It is then processed into a solid by H.C.I. which knocks 10% off making the heroin 90% so the smack is dry(and obviously easier to sell) I read this in a paper some years ago where a chemistry expert got the accused off by pointing out this discrepancy. Apparently the defence pointed out that the heroin that the police lab had labeled as 80% was therefore only 70% in actual purity by noting that if 100% heroin was not really 100% but 90% then the actual forensic testing of the sample in question would therefore not be considered as evidence due to this discrepancy in calculating the purity of the defendant's heroin sample. Charges were dismissed.
  9. HaZie
    Is it bad that this thread has just changed my opinion on black tar? We don't see it in the UK although there has been some reported in Scotland recently.
    I always thought that it was something I would avoid but now hell yes I would try it but then I do have that typical junkie outlook - someone ODd on it, I'll have what they had and make it snappy. Sad I know!
  10. Pain Hurts
    For the love of ..... get me some!!!! I have been so wanting to try it.
  11. baZING
    I am aware this is pretty old but I just want to throw out there I don't know if this is "ultra-pure" heroin or cut with fentanyl.

    Here is a report from 2006 about a similar problem: Fentanly Laced Heroin Kills Hundred in the USA.

    Fentanyl-laced herion has killed hundreds of addicts from Chicago to Philadelphia. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic drug, a prescription painkiller. It is 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and can kill humans in small doses. Most likely, the fentanyl is not pharmaceutical grade - it is probably made in illicit labs. Just 125 micrograms is enough to kill an adult - the equivalent of a few grains of salt.

    According to Chicago police, a West Side gang member has been arrested. The police say the arrest will hopefully lead them to the main supplier of the deadly heroin cocktail.

    More than 100 alleged drug dealers have been arrested over the last two months in an attempt to get the main dealer. None of the arrests helped the investigators get any nearer to their objective. Hopefully, this West Side arrest will. The gang member was selling fentanyl-laced heroin, lab tests showed.

    Police say the killer heroin is also being sold in Ohio. Over the last month three cases of heroin with fentanyl have been found.

    Of more concern is that addicts are not heeding the police warnings. When laced heroin was found in one street corner, the police warned all the addicts in the area. Rather than move elsewhere, many stayed in the hope of getting some free giveaways.

    Written by: Christian Nordqvist
    Editor: Medical News Today
    Copyright: Medical News Today

    So, I'm not really sure what's the situation here.
  12. anti liers
    Im in a very small town and I can tell u this I never heard of H in this area until about 3 months ago and I know alot of the pedlar's and they tell me it has blown up round here just like back in the day when my town was on 60 minutes for crack (yes true story) its scary but I and alot of people I know contribute it to medicad not covering certain meds anymore

    So the govt has changed a big problem that they where paying for into a monumental problem that kids are going to pay for with there lives

    Maybe its their way of thining the heard cuz not only did they stop covering the meds but they dropped 2 of the 3 rehabs they used to cover
  13. mre227
    swim took 10 bags of fent based heroin and died twice on the way to the hospital. i didnt come to for 4 hours where i was at that point nodding and can talk to real people.

    just goes to show you. why we need heroin assisted maintenance in the united states or people will die for the dealers who want to start off selling the good stuff, and then rip people off selling them cut
  14. DragonBallZ
    My son died 20 months ago aged 23. I found him. I had no idea that he was using. I knew he was on a methadone program for 5 years, and just came off a few weeks before. I always asked him how he was doing, he always said ok. He worked full time, and had his own apartment. I got the toxicology report but I don't understand it.
    It says: alcohol 0.12%, codeine 0.01mg/L, morphine 0.55mg/L, and 6-monoacetyl morphine 0.1%.

    Under that is said: codeine 0.01%, morphine 0.11mg/L, 6-monoacetyl morphine 0.6mg/L, alcohol 0.12%.

    How many drinks is that, where'd the codeine come from, (is that in heroin?) and 6-monoacetyl has a different amount in both. I just want to know why this killed him. He appeared to have been standing up, and fell forward hitting his head. I overheard the EMT saying he had been gone for 36 hours. No one answered my questions. Did he die that fast? Was that a lethal amount of one or more or was it the combination? Because he was beside his bed with his knees bent, it looked like he just dropped from standing. I wonder what he felt, what it felt like. Was it painful or did he just black out.
  15. Pain Hurts
    True, and it was not meant to be malicious there, if you read my bio and fULL history I am in bad shape. And meant this in a pain reduction context. Having my indepoence taken away and not able to use my University Education , which I paid for while attending and coming out debt free earning $75,k annul ~ in 2001 is a far cry from today. you really do not wanna know the numbers nor how I spent my July.

    I will elaborate with more sensitivity , moving on. I wish you much friendships and pain free summers.

  16. stryder09
    Codeine is a constituent of street heroin. If 6-MAM was detected in blood, it can be surmised that the death was rather rapid and occurred within 2.5 hours of heroin consumption.

    Heroin itself can cause massive respiratory depression, add in the alcohol and a syngerstic effect occurs creating exaggerated respiratory depression.

    If you want more info, we can talk offline, but more info such as autopsy results, blood source (central vs peripheral), and other others would be good to have.

    Let me know.

  17. JosiahDeville
    The heroin in my area is both tar and white,
    I know for a fact the white is coming straight from Boston and in Boston it's from a group called the rude boys, I don't know where it's at before them. The tar comes from Portland and that's the extent of it's trip though I'm almost positive it's mexican being as most black is from mexico.
  18. JJ1234
    There has been very pure heroin around the Detroit area for the last few years. It's not black tar though. It's offwhite/tan and I have to guess over 70% or more purity. Many of my childhood friends hooked on it. They started with Hydrocodone and eventually they couldn't afford the 10-20 pills a day they needed so, well you know the rest. I have a serious love/hate relationship with this drug and I vow to never touch it again! Sorry if this is off-topic, just had to vent a little.
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