Providing straightforward information pertaining to drugs, drug use & drug policy. The Grey Pages promotes drug-related literacy and advocates a system of viable and tolerant drug policies. This is my personal collection of commentaries, essays, tid-bits, and other such writings on everything ranging from drug use, drug policy and drug-myths, to drug-science, addiction, human behavior, and the workings of the human brain. I started this blog with a particular focus on opioids, and over the past year have found my interest gravitate toward the intriguing, ever-changing world of designer intoxicants (i.e. "research chemicals" or "designer drugs").

Friday, September 23, 2011

Heroin In the US (Overview of The Modern Market)

Southeast Asia (Burma), Middle East Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan), South America (Colombia) and Mexico: Each of these source areas has dominated the US heroin market at some point since the 1960's.

While Asian countries historically have fed European and American markets, virtually all heroin produced in South and Central America is destined for the US.

Over the last decade, we've seen a dramatic shift in the heroin trade; South American and to a lesser extent Mexican suppliers, traditionally known for their cocaine and commercial cannabis, have increased poppy cultivation and heroin production, and with lower prices have taken over the US market with white and brown powder and tar heroin.

On a much smaller scale, heroin from Southwest and Southeast Asia is still shipped by postage courier or trans-atlantic flight, or smuggled by chinese, middle eastern, or sometimes west african trafficking networks; It is distributed throughout the eastern part of the US. Southeast and Southwest Asian distribution is often managed by ethnic chinese, or mideastern organizations. Naturally, its availability is often limited to cities with significant subcultures of ethnic chinese and mideasterners; this includes the city of Chicago, which is known for its diverse market.
In the northeast and along the east coast, high purity South American powder dominates the market. South American heroin is the most common product everywhere east of the Mississippi, and has the highest street level purity on average (especially on the east coast), followed by SE and SW Asian heroin. New York City is the country's major heroin hub, and feeds markets throughout the northeast and new england area. Distribution in the east and northeast is managed often by gangs/groups of Dominican Nationals. Aside from NYC, Miami and Chicago supply cities of the southeast and midwest, respectively. . The heroin available in non metropolitan areas generally originates from whichever of these cities is closest.

In the midwest, Mexican heroin dominates the trade; in the form of black tar or brown powder (which according to many is sometimes a diluted form of black tar). Mexican heroin has been available in the East US, but only on an inconsistent basis, on a small scale. Independent or family owned mexican distribution networks more recently have dispatched couriers and distributors to smaller cities of the midwest US, where they distribute low priced black tar heroin, to fill unmet demand in out of the way areas.
Heroin enters the US from Mexico by private aircraft, cargo and freight services, migrant workers or immigrants, and vehicle. Vehicles enter the country in Texas, Arizona, or California, specific sites of entry including El Paso, Laredo, Del Rio, San Luis, Mexicali, and Tijuana. Entry by vehicle seems risky; but in the bigger picture, US Customs seize only a portion of the flow, leading traffickers to throw more product at the issue. Some South American organizations use an entirely different entry point, such as Miami, in which case shipments are transported by couriers (typically white tourists) through international flight or boat.

Once inside the border, shipments are handed over to well entrenched distribution networks (often by a "blind drop") who transport the drug to the major metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City.

Often straight off the brick or kilo, heroin is sold - relatively pure & in wholesale quantities - to retail level distributors. These retail sellers may be from within the metropolitan area or the surrounding suburbs. They often also come from other cities often hours away, making the trip to pick up several grams, to a few hundred grams, or more. This is often relatively pure heroin, which gets plenty of mileage especially when processed and cut. Most of the rocks are broken down, the powder is sifted, and typically diluted. Dope is then sold at a street level, or sold in larger quantities to low level leechers (who often cut the dope to very low levels).

The highest purity heroin is generally south american. The purest in the country is usually seen on the East coast, especially throughout NYC, NJ, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Asian heroin is a close second in purity level, while mexican powder heroin is generally the lowest. The national average for street level dope is currently close to 40%, with bad dope being as low as 5 to 15%, and quality dope reaching the 70s or 80s, though there are isolated instances of purity reaching the 90's.

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