Afghanistan, Mexico, and Prescription Drugs II

Three Unlikely Partners in Crime Part II – Mexican Farmers and Xalisco Drug Entrepreneurs

This article continues a look at the rise of heroin overdoses due to a variety of global factors coming together. Farmers and independent drug operators in Mexico have unwittingly combined forces with prescription drug manufacturers to contribute to the death of thousands of Americans. This is Part 2 of a 3 part series.

Part II Mexican Farmers and Entrepreneurs

A lot of the black tar heroin that makes into the United States comes from a short distance away  – in Xalisco, Mexico.

Mexico is also the biggest gateway for heroin from Afghanistan and other parts of Asia and Africa to enter the United States. But recent years has shown the appetite of the youth in the U.S. grow exponentially for heroin.  This growth in demand is from the upper and middle class communities in addition to the more traditional urban areas where heroin has been frequently abused.  This increase in heroin use can also be tied to the prescription drug industry and the prevalence of OxyContin that is obtained and used by people who it was not intended for. Inevitably  farmers from poor areas in Mexico have started production of this lucrative cash crop.

A recent L.A. Times story exposed the trend of young ambitious drug traffickers from Xalisco who are infiltrating the United States with a “heroin delivery” business that sees them fulfilling orders by taking phone orders and arranging dropoffs with customers.

Customer service is a concept that apparently has been adopted by these heroin pushers as they have taken a page out of Domino’s playbook and brought the product to the doorstep of their customers.  They also do follow up quality control calls and rewards for referred customers.

Prices Go Down, Overdoses Go Up

Along with the clever business model, the profits to be made have created enough competition to drive prices down – a phenomenon that spells death for many young people (and people of all ages) in the U.S.

Black tar heroin from Mexico has proliferated the entire country. This drug delivery enterprise has spread to towns such as Charlotte, Nashville, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.  The influence of these “Xalisco Boys” is felt particularly strongly in certain areas where OxyContin is popular.

The OxyContin Connection

It is logical that wherever OxyContin has a hold on people the heroin trade is sure to follow.   This phenomenon has been well documented in our blog (see the OxyContin Express entry) Ohio has been very hard hit by the popularity and availability of heroin with 15,000 addicts seeking treatment at state funded centers in 2008. The Appalachian Mountains (where OxyContin is known as “hillbilly heroin”) and the Rust Belt have been fruitful targets for heroin syndicates.

The LA Times article reports that the Xalisco dealers target white consumers because they are safer and more profitable to deal to.   Xalisco dealers also recruit customers and dealers out of rehabs and addiction recovery clinics.

Cracking Down on the Xalisco Heroin Trade

Federal Narcotics agents have been targeting and cracking down on the Xalisco heroin delivery syndicates but with the many layers of  underlings and the decentralized nature of the business, the system is well protected against law enforcement.

The dealers at the street level carry the drug in balloons in their mouth.  Addicts dial a number and place their order to 3rd party who relays the information to the street level dealer.  This is a very insulated system that makes it difficult to get any real charges or leverage on the multi tiered crime syndicate.

The systematic enterprise spread through cities like Reno, Salt Lake City, Denver, Honolulu and others.

Recent years has seen the attention of DEA agents move south into Xalisco county to try and address the influx of heroin at the source.  Poor sugar cane workers are willing participants in the opium farming and processing that leads to the creation of black tar heroin.  The Xalisco entrepreneurs were known to cooperate with the Areallano-Felix drug cartel and pay large sums for “permission” to participate in the lucrative trade.

Phone taps provide a starting point for U.S. authorities to move south of the border and target the ringleaders in Xalisco. There are many various “ranchos” that grow the poppies and they operate independently.  Many of the law enforcement efforts to crack down and in Mexico do not lead to successful arrests and those that do face the inevitability of another farmer stepping in to replace the supply of the incarcerated party.

Facing the Heroin Epidemic at Home

It is up to the families and loved ones of at risk individuals in the United States to begin educating themselves on how to confront the heroin epidemic.  There are a myriad of steps that you can take to help stem this tide.  A simple one is to carefully monitor the prescription medication that is kept in the home. Another step is to actually discuss drugs with teens who are entering the prime experimentation phase (during and after high school). Finally, if you think that you know someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol, there are many ways to start the conversation and there are many people who can help (like an interventionist) if you feel like a loved one is out of control.  For more information about drug treatment and prevention call Sober Living by the Sea’s team of admissions counselors.