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Are Mexican Drug Cartels "Marketing" Heroin to Pain-Killer Addicts in St. Louis?

Categories: Crime, Drugs

Although this sounds a bit like a conspiracy theory, it makes sense. Missouri isn't the biggest prescription-drug abuser, but it's up there: The state of Missouri ranks 20th in the nation, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

See also: Judge Who Bought Heroin "Daily" Faces 18 Months; His Dealer Gets 10 Years

afghan_poppy_fields.JPG
davric/wikimedia
A poppy field in Afghanistan.

And as any businessman knows, it's never a bad idea to go straight to the customer. But St. Louis has an especially acute problem due to its demographics and geography. First, its pill addicts are young (the National Institute on Drug Abuse says about 25 percent of its pill addicts in St. Louis are under the age of 24), which means they're more likely to experiment with a drug they haven't tried before. Also, St. Louis is close to Chicago, which is a major hub for heroin trafficking.

If you want to delve further into some serious conspiracy theories, the Sinaloa drug cartel, which is responsible for about 80 percent of the heroin in the U.S., is rumored to have worked with the Drug Enforcement Administration. According to a January article by Mexican newspaper El Universal, the DEA gave the Sinaloa cartel some freedom to run its heroin-slinging operations in return for information on other drug cartels.

See also: The Physiology of a Heroin Overdose

Dr. Edgardo Buscaglia, a professor at Columbia University, told El Universal that the tactic of cooperating with an illegal drug organization for other motives is something that has been done in Colombia, Cambodia, Thailand and Afghanistan since the 1980s.

And Myles Frechette, a former U.S. ambassador to Colombia, said the tactic helped reduce drug trafficking from that country.

The relationship reportedly lasted between 2000 and 2012, so if that's true, it could be over. Still, it allowed a drug cartel ten years to establish a network and apparently develop a clever marketing strategy of selling heroin to painkiller addicts in St. Louis.

Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:

E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.


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