More heroin has come through New York City this year than any time in more than two decades, reports the New York Times, reflecting a nationwide trend toward increased usage of the drug.
The Times reports that that the amount of heroin seized by officials in NYC this year — 786 pounds, the most since 1991 — suggests that the city is a national hub of the heroin industry. This amount does not include heroin confiscated through street-level arrests. "We're kind of the head of the Hydra,” said the city's Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan, adding "This is highly organized, high volume, and it’s being moved much more efficiently and effectively to reach out to a broader user base.”
Overall, about 35 percent of all heroin collected by DEA officials this year was found in New York state, up from about 20 percent in previous years. The Times explains that distributors like going through NYC because it provides access to a big market and the East Coast, and that Mexico's Sinaloa cartel is using traditional cocaine smuggling routes to send out the product. The trade hub also means that heroin is cheaper in New York City than in the rest of the country, as buyers get better rates closer to the source.
Officials are working to break down the route. Yesterday, officials arrested two men and seized 53 pounds of heroin, worth $11 million, in the biggest bust in NYC this year. According to NBC New York, the bust should cut off some supply to Connecticut and other states in New England. Per NBC, it seems surprisingly easy to pull off that kind of business:
Edualin Tapia and Guillermo Esteban Margarin, two suspected ringleaders, were arrested as they allegedly drove boxes of heroin to Hartford. Investigators allege the two men were carrying the heroin in plain view in uncovered boxes. In Hartford, agents searched the apartment where the suspects were headed and allegedly found other suspects trying to pour heroin down a sink in an effort to avoid arrest.
Another massive heroin and cocaine bust was made earlier this month, where 32 people were charged. That investigation was called "Operation Crazy Train," and taught us that "Reggie Miller" is code for 31 grams of cocaine (31 was Miller's number when he terrorized New York Knicks fans as a member of the Indiana Pacers.)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.