America’s Heroin Epidemic

In today’s post Britain’s BBC is gloating about the United States’ ongoing heroin epidemic, specifically in Chicago.

Ian Pannell reports (and I quote).

Heroin abuse in the US has been spreading beyond inner cities, resulting in a sharp rise in addiction and death. Chicago is a hub for cheap, pure and plentiful heroin, much of it supplied by Mexican drug cartels.

Chicago’s “L” train green line leads directly to the open-air drug markets on the city’s west side.

This part of Chicago has been ground down by neglect, drugs and crime, and residents talk openly about the narcotics on sale.

Of the four people who stopped to ask what we were filming, all said they had taken heroin.

The police are here, but they seem to face daunting odds as the heroin abuse spreads.

Nearly half a million Americans are thought to be addicted to heroin (way more than that actually). One woman we meet in a county jail – she was locked up for stealing to feed her habit – calls it an “epidemic”.

Back on Lower Wacker Drive, home to central Chicago’s destitute for nearly a century, five heroin addicts are injecting in an underpass.

Some bleed as they repeatedly stab the needle in – desperately trying to force the light brown fluid into their bodies.

Much of the heroin supply comes from Mexico, where production has risen more than 600% in the last 10 years.

Heroin is often cheaper and easier to use than prescription drugs, some of which have become more expensive, harder to obtain and harder to abuse – they now come in versions that are not so easy to grind down to snort or dissolve.

Last month Mexican authorities arrested Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the suspected boss of the Sinaloa cartel.

The Chicago Crime Commission (CCC) named him last year as the city’s Public Enemy Number One.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) estimates that the cartel supplies as much as 70% of the illegal drugs sold and used on Chicago’s streets.

But it’s not clear that the arrest will help stem the flow of heroin, especially if demand in the US remains strong.

Increasingly, it’s not just the inner-city junkies who are using heroin.

The recent death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an accidental overdose of a mix of drugs including heroin drew attention to something the police have known for a while – heroin now crosses all boundaries.

“Heroin addiction is probably at its all-time high,” says Special Agent Jack Riley, the DEA’s regional head.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years in virtually every corner of this country and if anything can be likened to a weapon of mass destruction on a family, on a community, on society, it’s heroin.

“I just don’t understand why people across the board don’t see its danger. Social services are overwhelmed, our healthcare services are overwhelmed, yet Mexican organised crime and street gangs make billions from it.”

The biggest increase in users is among the young.

Research suggests that nearly 34,000 12-17 year olds are now trying heroin for the first time each year, as the drug becomes cheaper and more readily available than ever.

Many live beyond inner cities, in small towns or in the country.

BBC’s Ian Pannell reports undercover.

In fact, it has been suggested that America’s heroin epidemic is unleashed on the American populace with at least a tacit approval of the U.S. Government as said government much prefers people on heroin to those who fight for their increasingly constricted economic and political rights in the US.

Heroin is therefore just another tool in the Government’s arsenal of deadly means to keep the multimillion-strong American underclasses under control.


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