The Bush administration's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is trying to cover up the surge in high-purity, low-priced Afghan heroin coming into the U.S., reports the Los Angeles Times today.
Despite an internal DEA memo, leaked to the Times, reporting the arrival of the Afghan supply, a DEA spokesman denied that there was an increase in Afghan heroin arriving in the U.S.
But drug enforcement authorities and heroin addicts in many parts of the country know better. The Times says:
Supplies of highly potent Afghan heroin in the United States are growing so fast that the pure white powder is rapidly overtaking lower-quality Mexican heroin, prompting fears of increased addiction and overdoses. ...
"The rise of heroin from Afghanistan is our biggest rising threat in the fight against narcotics," said Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino. "We are seeing more seizures and more overdoses." ...
The Department of Homeland Security also has found evidence of increasing Afghan heroin in this country. The agency reported skyrocketing numbers of seizures of heroin arriving at U.S. airports and seaports from India, not a significant heroin-producing country but a major transshipment point for Afghan drugs. ...The Afghan heroin "is so pure that they can snort it or smoke it," said one police official. "So, no needles or track marks." The article also provides background information on the history of the Afghan opium crop. For additional coverage in this blog, select the "Afghanistan" label.
In the meantime, although they may not recognize the product as coming from Afghanistan, addicts across the country are increasingly coming into contact with more powerful heroin.
"There is a different kind of heroin now," said Eric Wade, a 32-year-old recovering addict in Portland, Ore. "It is very, very strong, and it is cheaper than the other stuff. Not everybody has access to it, but I've seen more people overdose … on that stuff."