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Heroin Takes Hold of Columbus
Lizz Smucker - March 13, 2009
Deaths are piling up, raids are becoming more common, and arrests are growing daily. Heroin has left its mark on Columbus.
On September 2nd of 2008, James Baisden and two old friends met up to play games and do drugs. None of them could possibly foresee the tragedy that was about to befall them.
Anthony Moore and Chadwick Foster started the night in Westerville with a little cocaine, saving the black tar heroin as a surprise for later. They pulled it out after the cocaine and proceeded to shoot up. After that, the three of them fell asleep. Baisden never woke up.
James Baisden was the father of three young boys, four, six, and eight. Now his old friends, Moore and Foster, are charged with providing the heroin that led to his tragic overdose.
There have been 28 heroin overdoses in Franklin County in 2008, more than the past three years combined. "This is an epidemic problem. The amounts we're seeing -- we're talking central Ohio -- is not normal," said Tony Marotta, resident agent in charge of Ohio for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He believes that this is not normal for a state like Ohio.
Heroin from Mexico is most common in Columbus now, and black tar heroin, named for its appearance, is getting more and more potent, as strong as the heroin coming in from the Middle East. The stronger the heroin, the more likely an overdose is.
These days, heroin deals are set up over cell phones, and the exchanges are made in very public areas. Recently, 70 heroin packed balloons were traded for $1,400 outside of an Old Navy off Rome-Hilliard Road. The deal was made here because it offered quick access to a highway. In Dublin, the Kroger parking lot off Murfield Drive was a favorite meeting place for traffickers in 2006.
In 2007 alone, about 19 pounds of heroin were confiscated by the DEA, double the amount seized in 2004. As of May 2008, close to ten pounds had been seized. "...the amount of drugs we're seizing here in Columbus reminds me of Miami in the late '80s...", says Tony Marotta.
In the UK, it has been reported that kids as young as 10 are being caught abusing the drug to "chill out" after going clubbing.
Heroin was first introduced to the United States during, and shortly after, the Vietnam War. Soldiers were given heroin to calm them after the horrific sights they had seen, and they returned to their homes as addicts.
Heroin was also originally prescribed as a cough suppressant in 1874, though back then it was much less toxic and prescribed under the name diamorphine. It is still available in the United Kingdom as diamorphine, but is much less potent than the black tar heroin that Latino immigrants are bringing into the United States.
From 1898 to 1910, heroin was marketed as a non-addictive morphine substitute to the general public, and Bayer actually marketed it as a cure for morphine addiction before it was discovered that the body quickly metabolized it into morphine. Bayer was publicly embarrassed and lost the rights to sell their "cure for morphine".
Short-term effects of heroin usage are slowed breathing, muscle weakness, dry, itchy skin ("skin picking"), and alternated alert and drowsy feelings. Long-term effects of heroin use are addiction, hightened tolerance levels (meaning you need more of the drug to feel its effects), collapsed veins, decreased liver function, and death.
Some information in this story from wikipedia.com, dispatch.com, and cnn.com.
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