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The 'Black Tar' Heroin Explosion

From the Los Angeles Times series "The Heroin Road." Photo: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times. Copyright © 2010

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We have a mental image of heroin dealing that is probably out of date. Dealer. On the corner. Bad neighborhood. Customers cruising by. Drug lord in the shadows, selling product from all over the world.

But there’s a new way. “Black tar” heroin, out of one little county in Mexico, sold door-to-door — in middle America — by an army of small-time entrepreneurs.

It could be cosmetics or cookies or fundraiser candy bars. But it’s heroin, on a new business model. Sweeping into neighborhoods that have never known it.

This hour, On Point: the “black tar” heroin explosion.

Guests:

Sam Quinones, investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times. His three-part series on the spread of black-tar heroin has just been published. You can see an LA Times audio slide show documenting two black-tar heroin users (it’s graphic — viewers be warned.) Quinones is author of  “True Tales From Another Mexico” and “Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream: Truer Tales of Mexican Migration.”

James Capra, DEA Special Agent in charge of the Dallas Field Division. He is responsible for operations in the northern and eastern districts of Texas and the state of Oklahoma.

Dr. Joe Gay, executive director of Health Recovery Services, a drug treatment and recovery center based in Athens, Ohio. His organization provides services for four, rual southeastern counties, where there has been a signficant spike in black-tar heroin use.

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