As Breitbart Texas has previously reported, Middle America is awash in deadly heroin coming from south of the border. The Mexican heroin is affecting middle- and upper-class families in unprecedented ways. In a special series for Peoria Public Radio, Camille Phillips takes a look at how this deadly drug has invaded St. Louis, Missouri.
The statistics are tragic:
Since 2007, at least 2,397 families in the St. Louis region have lost a loved one to an addiction to heroin or prescription opiates such as oxycodone or fentanyl. According to county coroner data on opiate overdose deaths collected by the St. Louis area National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the number of opiate deaths in the region has nearly tripled since 2007. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the heroin epidemic has caused more deaths in the Midwest than anywhere else in the country, claiming four times as many deaths in 2013 as it did in 2000.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in St. Louis, Missouri, explained to Peoria Public Radio that heroin has flooded the U.S. market as a result of competition between Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. He also explained how the purity of the heroin has skyrocketed. The price has also come down, which doesn’t make business sense, but allows dealers to make more money because users keep coming back for more. This price drop has encouraged users of black market opiate pills like OxyContin to make the switch to heroin because it’s more affordable, and no longer does heroin have to be injected—eliminating the barrier to those averse to needles and the stigma of track marks.
In an attempt to reverse this trend, the St. Louis division of the DEA is partnering with state and local law enforcement to form heroin task forces that can arrest drug traffickers at all levels of an organization. “We’re looking at heroin traffickers at all levels that are responsible not only for the distribution of heroin but they’re the ones behind weapons trafficking and the crime that affects small communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Jim Shroba.
However, the challenge in St. Louis, as well as in the rest of the Midwest, is staggering. “I’ve said it before: we’re not going to arrest our way out of this,” said Shroba. “Now we will arrest the biggest and baddest dope dealers that are in this game right now, and they’ll go to prison, but in doing so we have to make sure there’s not another generation of dope dealers coming in right behind them.”
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.