Saturday, June 17, 2006

Chicago Heroin & Fentanyl Dealer Arrested

From the Sun-Times:

Key arrest in killer heroin spree

"Key" might be premature, but we'll see. Though they've arrested hundreds of dealers, the Chicago police believe that this arrest is the most significant.

The 26-year-old suspect, a member of the Vice Lords, was operating drug sales on the West Side near Lavergne, Cicero and Huron, sources said. Chicago Police and federal law enforcement reportedly were led to him after he started selling heroin to young adults -- and some teens -- from far southwest suburban Lemont.

The dealer, whose identity was not released, was being questioned by investigators who were hoping to learn more about where he was getting his supply of heroin, which tests have shown was laced with fentanyl.

We'll see.

The story also discusses the DEA conference in Chicago. The most discouraging part of the report is this:
Federal law enforcement officials say the fentanyl, which is manufactured for legal use as a pain-killer, is being made in a clandestine lab and mixed into the nation's illegal drug supply. A lab in Mexico where the drug might have been made was taken down in late May by authorities there.

Timothy Ogden, associate special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Chicago field division, said there may well be more than one lab cranking out fentanyl.

To illustrate how little fentanyl is needed to cause an overdose, the DEA produced this graphic. The little white dot in the circle is fentanyl. That dosage is about all it takes.

Also, the Guardian runs an AP story about the DEA conference. It reports on law enforcement's view of the problem -- essentially, they are very scared by this drug -- and adds a few more anecdotes about the epidemic from heroin addicts.
A self-described drug addict stood by a vacant lot on the city's South Side and pointed down the block. There, he says, more than a dozen of his friends and acquaintances died after using heroin laced with a strong painkiller.

"Joe died down there, and then there was Rita, Cherlyn, Marvin died somewhere over there - and Chico there," said Don Howard, 59, flanked by rows of derelict buildings and a sign atop a lamppost that read, "Chicago Blues District."

Since so little fentanyl is needed to cause an overdose, it is virtually impossibe to see if a bag of heroin has been laced with that drug. The addict quoted above, who appears so sympathetic, is actually quite ruthless about getting his high but avoiding the risk of fentanyl:
Howard, who said he struggles to scrape together the $10 it costs for a small bag of heroin, said he doesn't turn down free samples of heroin - even though such samples have been linked to the recent fentanyl deaths.

But he does take precautions.

Before settling down to shoot up a sample with friends, "I let somebody else go first to be sure,'' Howard said.

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