Heroin torments us again

Heroin has made a resurgence in America and in Anderson County in the past several years.

While heroin had not been seen with any frequency in Anderson County in decades, it is now a tremendous problem and is producing a number of overdose deaths.

Mexican drug cartels are in many ways sophisticated and incredibly profitable businesses. They were concerned by the legalization of marijuana in some states.

Aware that legalization could make their Mexican marijuana less profitable, and in anticipation of these challenges, Mexican cartels began moving into methamphetamine.

In addition, they were aware of the widespread abuse of pain pills in the U.S. along with the possibility of converting U.S. pain pill addicts to cheaper heroin. Pain pills are often made of synthetic heroin or opioids. Naturally produced heroin is said to be an opiate.

So, the cartels began converting their marijuana fields to heroin producing poppy fields. Now Mexico supplies more than 80% of all heroin in the United States. This is also true in Tennessee.

Heroin comes in several different forms. Black tar heroin is a sticky black substance. Heroin can also be a white powder or a light brown powder. No matter what the form of heroin, it is sold in very small quantities. Typically, a 10th of a gram of heroin would be one dose and would sell for about $10. These individual doses are called hits.

Heroin used to have a different distribution system when it entered the United States from countries in Asia. Heroin often came into the country through northern states.

However, the Mexican grown heroin now is distributed along the same routes as cocaine and methamphetamine. They enter the country through our southern border and arrive in Atlanta or Memphis before making their way to East Tennessee.