The Los Angeles Times has a phenomenal three-part series called “Heroin Road” that investigates how sugar-cane farm workers, illegal immigrants from Xalisco, Mexico, have spread black-tar heroin to some 14 states across the U.S. It also explores the rise black-tar heroin use in communities where prescription pain pill abuse is high. The first installment reports that dealers have been especially successful in parts of Appalachia and the Rust Belt with high rates of addiction to OxyContin, because they market their heroin as a cheap, potent alternative. In areas where this form of heroin – called black-tar because it’s sticky and dark – has become more popular, deaths from heroin overdoses have also increased, the article says.
The second installment notes that OxyContin pills cost $80 apiece and addicts often need five or six a day, while black-tar heroin is stronger and costs less than $50 for a day’s fix.
The third installment details how the black-tar heroin trade has pulled poor Mexican drug dealers out of poverty, even as it has ruined lives in the U.S. “By addicting the children of others, they could support their own,” the article says of the dealers.
There’s also an audio slide show interviewing two black-tar heroin addicts.
Also interesting are the comments from readers, some of whom apparently felt the author was providing a road map for how to get high.