WBEZ | Heroin LLC http://www.wbez.org/tags/heroin-llc Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en FDA approves heroin overdose antidote http://www.wbez.org/news/fda-approves-heroin-overdose-antidote-109977 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ODawarenesst-shirt.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Food and Drug Administration has <a href="http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm391465.htm" target="_blank">approved</a> an easy-to-use device that delivers a life-saving antidote for suspected heroin overdoses.</p><p>Naloxone is usually administered by syringe in ambulances or emergency rooms. Kathie Kane-Willis, director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy and Roosevelt University, has long advocated for the antidote to be more readily available.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;When your house is burning down, you don&rsquo;t think about why your house is burning down, you don&rsquo;t think about why is the house burning down, you get the people out of the house,&rdquo; Kane-Willis said.</p><p><br />Once turned on, the device, called Evzio, provides verbal instructions. It&rsquo;s similar to how non-medical personnel use defibrillators to help people who collapse from cardiac arrest. Evzio is about the size of a credit card.</p><p>The FDA&rsquo;s recent Naloxone approval means doctors could prescribe it for family members or caregivers to keep on hand, in a pocket or a medicine cabinet.</p><p>The FDA cautioned that the antidote is not a substitute for immediate medical care.</p><p>The drug manufacturer said it&rsquo;s too soon to estimate the antidote&rsquo;s cost.</p><p>Opioid-related drugs--painkillers such as oxycodone and Vicodin or heroin--are proving more popular and lethal. The FDA says 16,000 people die every year due to opioid-related overdoses, and that drug overdose deaths are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle crashes.</p><p><em>WBEZ and the Chicago Reader explored the pathways through which heroin enters and impacts our community in its joint series, &quot;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/heroin-llc-chicago-is-heroin?in=wbez/sets/heroin-llc">Heroin, LLC</a>.&quot;</em><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/17095202&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ reporter and producer. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez"> @katieobez</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/fda-approves-heroin-overdose-antidote-109977 DuPage County tries to keep drug users out of jail http://www.wbez.org/news/dupage-county-tries-keep-drug-users-out-jail-109407 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LEAD1.jpg" title="Legislators attend a summit on heroin, this time at Elmhurst College (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p>Prescription painkillers are often a pathway to heroin. A <a href="http://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/advisories/1308215815.aspx" target="_blank">recent federal report</a> found that four out of five new heroin users had previously used illicit pain pills.</p><p>That&#39;s how Nick Gore got hooked.</p><p>Gore said his childhood in suburban Bartlett -- 35 miles west of Chicago -- was normal. But in his early 20s, Gore developed a boulder-sized kidney stone that required multiple surgeries. And prescriptions to deal with the pain.</p><p>After a couple stints in detox -- and a couple in jail -- Gore took his first trip to rehab where he met a woman, a heroin addict.&nbsp; Soon, they started to date; he&nbsp;took her to a concert downtown and before he knew it, they were on the West Side of Chicago.<br /><br />&quot;We got off at Cicero and before I knew it, we not only bought our first bag of dope but we were snorting it,&rdquo; Gore recalled. &quot;It made me so sick, just throwing up. And I was itchy and disgusted but I got that warm feeling, like I was invincible...that euphoria that they talk about. And I wasn&#39;t addicted the first time I did heroin -- but I was hooked. It just hooked me.&rdquo;</p><p>Soon, the nice hockey star from Bartlett was a twice-convicted felon. Gore stole to feed his habit, to continue chasing that first high. But he said he didn&#39;t feel much of anything -- just sick, cycling in and out of withdrawal -- until his second trip to rehab.</p><p>For the first time in his life, Gore said he started to feel things.</p><p>&quot;I was being honest and it killed me, I was being honest about all the stupid shit I did and it killed me. Brought a lot more chaos into my life than into anyone else&#39;s because I took a butcher knife and decided to cut my Achilles tendon cause I just needed to feel something,&rdquo; Gore said.</p><p>Now two years into his recovery, Gore doesn&#39;t want to see anyone else get caught up in the heroin cycle. He said he&#39;d consider it a win if he can stop one person from trying heroin. So he shares his story at heroin summits in the western suburbs.&nbsp;</p><p>DuPage County Coroner <a href="http://www.dupageco.org/coroner/">Dr. Richard Jorgensen</a> said the fight to stop the spread of heroin use has been a losing battle for much of the community. Forty-three people have died so far this year as a result of heroin, and Jorgensen said there are at least three other suspected cases, pending toxicology reports.&nbsp;</p><p>Jorgensen analyzed the last two years of heroin-related deaths -- the period when the numbers jumped well above the annual average. In 2012, there were 38 deaths, a dozen more than the previous five years. Jorgensen looked for a pattern, an explanation, perhaps a hot spot.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;There&#39;s not one town or one city that predominates the statistics, we don&#39;t have one area or one socioeconomic group that predominates. It&#39;s not the poor kids from here or the rich kids from there it&#39;s really all over DuPage County,&rdquo; Jorgensen said.</div><p>Jorgensen said if heroin users don&#39;t end up in the morgue, they will probably end up across the street with DuPage County State&#39;s Attorney <a href="http://www.dupageco.org/statesattorney/">Bob Berlin</a>. That&#39;s why the two teamed up to spread awareness. They hold forums anywhere they&#39;re welcome: at schools, at local hospitals and community centers.</p><p>But Berlin said that getting people to show up and listen has been a struggle.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re dealing with the &lsquo;not my kid syndrome.&#39; Many parents unfortunately hear about heroin and they take the position &lsquo;Well geeze, it&#39;s not my kid, I don&#39;t have to worry about this.&#39; And we&#39;re trying to tell them it may not be your kid today but that doesn&#39;t mean it that it might not happen tomorrow,&rdquo; Berlin said.</p><p>Berlin said he isn&#39;t interested in sending addicts to jail.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ODawarenesst-shirt.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Hundreds of people turned out for this Overdose Awareness rally in August. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p>&quot;Someone who&#39;s an addict, they&#39;re stealing money to support their habit, putting them in prison for a year or two years where they&#39;ll serve half the time and get out doesn&#39;t really solve the problem because they continue to do the same things if you don&#39;t treat the drug addiction,&rdquo; Berlin said.</p><p>Non-violent defendants are still prosecuted for a felony but they&#39;re not incarcerated. They get counseling and regular drug tests. And if they complete the program, they&#39;re less likely to reappear in the criminal justice system. <a href="http://www.dupageco.org/courts/drug_court/2215/">DuPage County&#39;s drug court</a> is one of the most successful programs of its kind in the area. The typical rate of recidivism for felons is about 30 percent within three years. For drug court grads, it&#39;s eight percent.</p><p>But when it comes to drug dealers in DuPage County, the state&#39;s attorney takes a hardline approach. There is no drug court and no breaks.</p><p>&quot;We are aggressively prosecuting those people that peddle the poison in our community,&rdquo; Berlin said.</p><p>To Berlin, there is a clear, black-and-white difference between a user and a seller; but to Roosevelt University drug policy researcher <a href="http://www.roosevelt.edu/CAS/CentersAndInstitutes/IMA/Leadership.aspx">Kathie Kane-Willis</a> it&#39;s gray and problematic.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/KKW.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Kathie Kane-Willis speaks at an Overdose Awareness Rally in August at Roosevelt University's Schaumburg campus." /></div><p>Oftentimes, she said, both are heroin dependent and both will engage in acquisitive crimes that enable them to buy drugs. And to avoid withdrawal. Kane-Willis hasn&#39;t just researched this issue, she lived it as a former heroin user.</p><p>&quot;There were many times that I was delivering drugs because I was the one who had the time to cop drugs and so I would buy them and people would give me money, and I would give them the drugs; that&#39;s distribution, that&#39;s a sales offense. So was I a drug seller when I did that or was I a drug user or was I both? I was drug dependent,&quot; Kane-Willis said.</p><p>She said law enforcement is sending dependents mixed messages. On the one hand, they&#39;ll say it&#39;s not a problem that society can arrest its way out of. On the other hand, anyone caught selling drugs can expect a stiff penalty and some jail time.</p><p>The potential punishment can be especially harsh for anyone found to have supplied a fatal dose of heroin. In DuPage County, the charge is drug-induced homicide, a Class-X felony that carries up to 30 years in prison.</p><p>DuPage County has three-such cases pending. Nineteen-year-old Nolan McMahon was charged this past summer in the death of a 15-year-old Bartlett High School student. McMahon is accused of delivering the heroin that the other teen ingested before overdosing in his parents&#39; home.</p><p>Dealers bear responsibility in these deaths, according to Berlin.</p><p>&quot;The drug dealers know how dangerous these drugs are and how strong they are&hellip;and they need to be held accountable for what happens when people use these drugs and die, it&#39;s that simple. And that&#39;s the risk that they take,&quot; Berlin said.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pie%20heroin.PNG" style="height: 256px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="" /></p><p>But Kane-Willis said there&#39;s a greater and deadlier risk associated with the charge.</p><p>&quot;I think every drug-induced homicide charge that is made sends a ripple through the using community to not call 911 and might result in somebody else&#39;s death,&rdquo; Kane-Willis said.</p><p><a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1701&amp;GAID=11&amp;DocTypeID=SB&amp;SessionID=84&amp;GA=97">Illinois&#39;s Good Samaritan Law</a> protects anyone from prosecution for possession if that person has fewer than three grams of heroin and, in good faith, calls 911 to save the life of someone who has overdosed.</p><p>If the overdose victim cannot be revived, the law does not provide protection from a drug-induced homicide charge.</p><p>Kane-Willis said the general perception of the relationship between a user and a seller is misunderstood.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not what people think; there&#39;s not someone lurking around the corner trying to sell you heroin...that&#39;s not what heroin use and purchasing looks like,&rdquo; she said. &quot;Generally, people are seeking it out, they&#39;re drug dependent; and to provide drugs to someone who is in withdrawal, I&#39;ll say this from my own personal point of view, is not an evil thing to do, it&#39;s an act of mercy. And so I think some of these cases, these are merciful people who are being charged with murder, and that&#39;s just wrong.&rdquo;</p><p>Kane-Willis said it&#39;s important to understand that the victim and the perpetrator are very much the same kind of people.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z5OJBBaoBP4k.kUgUKWvKtdDs" name="dupagechart" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-12-19%20at%205.51.58%20AM.png" style="height: 327px; width: 620px;" title="Map of 2013 heroin deaths by community in DuPage County. Click to view larger map." /></a></div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2012.PNG" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2013%20dupage.PNG" title="" /></div></div><p><em>Katie O&#39;Brien is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/katieobez">@katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 11:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/dupage-county-tries-keep-drug-users-out-jail-109407 Heroin, LLC: A life and business in drugs http://www.wbez.org/news/heroin-llc-life-and-business-drugs-109402 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/leadphoto.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Greg Scott)" /></p><p>DePaul University professor Greg Scott first met D-Bo 11 years ago. Scott is a documentary maker and sociologist specializing in street drug markets. He is also director of the Social Science Research Center at DePaul. D-Bo is a 52-year-old mid-level heroin dealer. He has been selling and using heroin for a quarter century. They recently spent some time together talking about the business of &nbsp;heroin dealing.</p><p>D-Bo frequently gets from his supplier so-called &ldquo;raw&rdquo; heroin, which in Chicago means a product that is about 40 percent pure. Usually it comes in a rock-like form. D-Bo cuts the &ldquo;raw&rdquo; with the butt end of a flashlight and cuts the resulting powder with a mix. Over the counter sleeping aids are his number one choice for cutting, diluting and extending the profit margin of a batch of &ldquo;raw&rdquo; dope for distribution.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody that&rsquo;s trying to be in the game, they pretty much come to me,&rdquo; D-Bo says. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m kind of like The Godfather.&rdquo; During one of Scott&rsquo;s visits, an acquaintance of D-Bo&rsquo;s brings by some heroin for a read on its quality. &ldquo;He wanted me to give him a read on it,&rdquo; D-Bo says. &ldquo;He wants to know how it cooks, what the color looks like; he wants to know how it tastes before I shoot it. And then tell him how high it got me.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Most heroin dealers are guys who started out a little shady but then they bought businesses. They&rsquo;re walking around wearing shirts and ties and you&rsquo;d never know they&rsquo;ve got 500 grams of heroin stashed in somebody&rsquo;s house,&rdquo; D-Bo says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s various levels of dealers. You got the street dealer. If their product is decent they can make anywhere from $500 a day to $10,000 a day. Then you got the guys working off their phones. You can call them, as long as it&rsquo;s at least $20, they&rsquo;re gonna come. Then you got the guys selling to all those guys. Actually he&rsquo;s making more money than everybody because he&rsquo;s dealing with turnover.&rdquo;</p><p>D-Bo says he knows a drug dealer who is a millionaire, but feels trapped, like the police are out to get him every day. But D-Bo understands why this person keeps selling drugs. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a rush,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Just like playing football, basketball was a rush to me. Baseball was a rush to me. Everything I did was a rush to me.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/500.jpg" style="float: right; width: 266px; height: 400px;" title="(WBEZ/Greg Scott)" /></div><p>To counter the depressant effects of heroin, D-Bo smokes crack regularly, particularly when he&rsquo;s moving product. It keeps him sharp.</p><p>D-Bo says, &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a couple of myths about heroin. Some heroin addicts look like they&rsquo;re bums, you know, their clothes are dirty. They don&rsquo;t have a job and things like that. But I know some of the higher echelon people in society: doctors, lawyers, teachers. The list can go on and on. I&rsquo;m talking about people that are high up in society, that use heroin&hellip;.I know some doctors and lawyers whose habits were so great &ndash; and their money was so long &ndash; that it took for them to screw up in their profession before they would actually address the issue of their problem. And then they fall hard just like anybody else. They be right in the treatment center with the guy that don&rsquo;t have no job, that is sleeping in the gutter. Ain&rsquo;t no different.&rdquo;</p><p>D-Bo wishes for a simpler time, before heroin. He&rsquo;s in a program but he&rsquo;s not all the way true to it. &ldquo;I love heroin,&rdquo; D-Bo says, &ldquo;But I know heroin will destroy me.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Aurora Aguilar and Bill Healy helped produce this report.</em></p><div><span id="cke_bm_206E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_205E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_204E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_203E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_202E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "500", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Heroin, LLC"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157638801860246"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser131218141917"); </script><div id="PictoBrowser131218163049">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "500", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Heroin, LLC"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157638801860246"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser131218163049"); </script></p> Wed, 18 Dec 2013 13:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/heroin-llc-life-and-business-drugs-109402 Chicago is hub for heroin in the Midwest http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-hub-heroin-midwest-109373 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rw1.jpg" title="Federal prosecutors say Chicagoans were dealing heroin on streets like this in Waterloo, Iowa. (WBEZ/Rob Wildeboer)" /></div></div></div><p>There have been times in her life when Connie Johnson was homeless along with her six children. &ldquo;Going to relatives&rsquo; house, day in day out, they get tired of you,&rdquo; Johnson says in a recent interview. &nbsp;We&rsquo;re in the kitchen of her second floor apartment on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side. &ldquo;Everyone extend their hand but when you come in, it&rsquo;s, the story changes, welcome ran out kind of fast, you know?&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Then about eight years ago, she heard from a niece living in Waterloo, Iowa, a 5-hour drive from Chicago. &ldquo;She was saying that you can get work there, so, we all moved down there and everybody that went got work: my daughter, my sons, my husband.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>It was a hopeful start and things were good there, for a while anyway.&nbsp;</p><p>Johnson walks from the kitchen past the bathroom to the dining room (her apartment is a typical layout for a Chicago 2-flat.) Her bedroom is just off the dining room and on the windowsill she keeps a plaque. It was awarded to her husband Lusta and is a reminder of those good times in Iowa.</p><p>&ldquo;This is the plaque from Tyson that Lusta had got and it says &lsquo;for five years service,&rsquo; but he actually worked there about seven years,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Tyson is Tyson Foods, which makes things like Asian chicken thighs and honey chicken tenders. That&rsquo;s where her husband Lusta found work in Iowa. Johnson keeps the plaque in plastic. The Tyson logo and the brass plate with her husband&rsquo;s name are pristine. Johnson tells me it &ldquo;shows that he was doing something, that he was headed to doing the right thing, you know?&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>But things went sideways. Her husband is addicted to heroin, has been since the late 70s. She has also struggled with addiction, as have other members of the family. In Iowa, in addition to working new jobs at Tyson, they bought and sold heroin. Now Johnson&rsquo;s son is doing 15 years federal time. Her sister-in-law, 15 years federal time. Her nephew is doing life and her husband Lusta is facing trial and likely a similar fate.</p><p><strong>The size of a pencil eraser</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Lusta Johnson distributed heroin,&rdquo; says federal prosecutor Lisa Williams in an interview at the new glass-and-stone federal courthouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Williams has indicted much of the Johnson family and knows their stories well.</p><p>&ldquo;They all long before they came to Waterloo had heroin habits. &nbsp;And so when they got to Waterloo the heroin habit didn&rsquo;t go away just by crossing the state line and so they found themselves back into distributing heroin, obtaining it in Chicago and using it as well,&rdquo; Williams says.&nbsp;</p><p>In the Johnson case Williams says they would bring back heroin in amounts of 10, 15, sometimes 20 or 30 grams. To get an idea of what that looks like, Williams says one gram of heroin is about the size of a pencil eraser. &ldquo;And so you would take 30 of those eraser tops and that would be 30 grams. It would fit in your palm about so it&rsquo;s not a huge quantity but it&rsquo;s still a significant quantity,&rdquo; said Williams.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also profitable. Williams says a gram goes for about $100 in Chicago; a four- or five-hour drive to Iowa doubles its value. So 30 grams would be $3,000 in Chicago and $6,000 in Iowa. But there&rsquo;s more.</p><p>Williams says you can cut the heroin and mix it with another substance like sleeping pills. &ldquo;So not only do you double your money, but you&rsquo;re tripling your quantity and so that&rsquo;s how you can really start to make a profit on it.&rdquo;</p><p>Williams says that $3,000 of heroin in Chicago can be worth $12,000 or $18,000 in Iowa.</p><p>In addition to the Johnson case, Williams is prosecuting other Chicagoans who moved out to Iowa and sold heroin, 36 cases in all right now. And there are others.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/450-iowa-3.jpg" style="float: left; height: 201px; width: 300px;" title="The apartment complex where prosecutors say Chicagoans had moved to and were dealing heroin out of. (WBEZ/Rob Wildeboer)" /><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/450-iowa-2.jpg" style="float: left; height: 201px; width: 300px;" title="The Sherwood Court apartment complex in Waterloo, Iowa dead ends into a cemetery, making surveillance difficult, according to a DEA investigator’s Court testimony. (WBEZ/Rob Wildeboer)" /></div></div></div><p><strong>Heroin sales not so blatant in Iowa</strong></p><p>Sergeant Dave Dostal of the Cedar Rapids police department stands on the curb in an older neighborhood in Cedar Rapids close to the central part of the city. The houses look like the houses in many other Midwestern towns, foursquare homes that could be beautiful but many of them are run down. Dostal points to a house with an appliance sitting in the front yard and says two guys from Chicago moved there and started selling heroin, and cars would be driving up all day. &ldquo;Classic drug trafficking signs, you know, short term traffic,&rdquo; says Dostal.</p><p>Cedar Rapids is not like Chicago where guys are standing on the corners. Here, you need to know someone. Dostal says police made some buys by calling the dealers on cell phones and then meeting them, sometimes at a Laundromat just across the street.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;d set up surveillance and photograph as the individuals would come out of this house, walk over, transaction would be completed and then that individual would walk back to this place,&rdquo; Dostal says as he points between the house and the Laundromat.</p><p>But Dostal didn&rsquo;t arrest them for making small individual sales. He was putting together a larger case. &ldquo;What happens is, if they&rsquo;re selling out of one specific house and your surveillance is done long enough and you get probable cause for a search warrant, you&rsquo;re going to get them and all their product and maybe money,&rdquo; he says. That means more serious charges and heavier time.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>Dostal says the surveillance of this house was part of a case that led to federal charges for 11 more people bringing heroin from Chicago.</p><p><strong>Cedar Rapids the end of the line</strong></p><p>Dostal says Cedar Rapids isn&rsquo;t a drug hub like Chicago. No one&rsquo;s moving heroin through Cedar Rapids, it&rsquo;s the end of the line.&nbsp;According to the DEA in Cedar Rapids, there have been 200 heroin overdoses in Northeastern Iowa since 2007, and 50 of those overdoses resulted in death.&nbsp;One of those people was Jon Jelinek&rsquo;s 22-year-old son Sam.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/450-iowa-1.jpg" style="float: right; height: 201px; width: 300px;" title="Jon Jelinek standing in front of the bedroom where he found his son dead of a heroin overdose. (WBEZ/Rob Wildeboer)" /></div></div><p>Jelinek learned about his son&rsquo;s heroin addiction when Sam was arrested once. Jelinek helped him get clean and stuck with him through a relapse and an overdose. And they talked. Sam told him his heroin was being brought into Cedar Rapids by two cousins from Chicago.</p><p>On March 22 of this year Sam didn&rsquo;t show up for work. He worked at the restaurant Jelinek owns and Jelinek called him. &ldquo;Didn&rsquo;t get any call back. &nbsp;Had lunch and then about 1:30 felt something in my stomach saying something ain&rsquo;t right so I jumped in my truck, and I knew all the way out here, I knew he had overdosed,&rdquo; Jelinek says.</p><p>Sam&rsquo;s room was locked so Jelinek kicked in the door. &ldquo;I found him kneeling on his knees, with his head in his pillow, like he was trying to get up out of bed, the needle was still in between his fingers,&rdquo; said Jelinek.&nbsp;</p><p>Jelinek walks through the foyer of the house where his son died, down a couple steps to the family room. The door to Sam&rsquo;s bedroom is in the corner. He goes to the door and pushes it open. &ldquo;This is the first time I&rsquo;ve been back in here since.&rdquo;</p><p>Jelinek looks down and sees a belt on the floor and picks it up. &ldquo;This is his tourniquet. They put it just like you see on T.V. &nbsp;Put it around, bite it and pull it, so they get that vein sticking out.&rdquo; He pauses, silent. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just sad that it come to that,&rdquo;&nbsp;he finally says.</p><p>Jelinek blames the dealers. He says his son was trying to get clean, but because dealing in Cedar Rapids is all done by cell phone the dealers had Sam&rsquo;s number and they texted him that they had a new shipment in. It must have been too much to resist.</p><p><strong>Dealers often users and victims too</strong></p><p>Back on the West Side of Chicago, in her second floor apartment, Connie Johnson weeps in her kitchen. She weeps because much of her family is going to be in federal prison for many years for dealing heroin. But she also weeps because of all the harm heroin has done to her and her husband; there have been decades of addiction, poverty and homelessness. She says heroin is an ugly thing. And I ask her, if the authorities don&rsquo;t lock up the people dealing, people like her son and husband, what should they do to stop this ugly drug that kills people and ruins lives?</p><p>Through tears she says she wishes she knew the answer.</p><p><em>The Chicago Reader&rsquo;s Mick Dumke contributed reporting for this story.</em></p></p> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-hub-heroin-midwest-109373 If you don't have money or insurance, you may have to wait for drug treatment http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/if-you-dont-have-money-or-insurance-you-may-have-wait-drug-treatment-109361 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Caraline%20Scally-height350.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Caraline Scally" /></div><p>People who know Caraline Scally well say that when sober, she&rsquo;s curious, smart and generous. But when she&rsquo;s strung out on heroin, Caraline says she&rsquo;s a monster who cares only about herself &ndash; and her drugs. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t care that you&rsquo;re crying and telling me that you want me to be alive, and you don&rsquo;t want me to die. I just don&rsquo;t care,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>As part of our Heroin, LLC series with the Chicago Reader, we&rsquo;ve been tracking how heroin is moved from Mexico to Chicago, where it&rsquo;s a big part of the economy on the city&rsquo;s West Side. &nbsp;And we&rsquo;ve been talking with people whose lives are affected by the drug trade, including people trying to recover from addiction. That&rsquo;s how we got to talking with Caraline Scally.</p><p><strong>Quiet childhood</strong></p><p>Caraline grew up on a quiet cul de sac in west suburban Downer&rsquo;s Grove. Very few cars came back there and the kids could play in the street. It was the kind of place you could cut through a neighbor&rsquo;s yard to get somewhere, and nobody minded. She was a kid who loved reading and writing, and after school played park district soccer, which her father coached.</p><p>By middle school she still enjoyed many of her classes, but also got drunk a few times and was even grounded one entire summer for smoking pot.</p><p>The real trouble though, started in the summer after freshman year. She had just turned 16 when a new kid at the school asked if she and a friend would like to snort some heroin. It never occurred to her that she could become addicted.</p><p>&ldquo;I just remember the euphoric feeling it gave me as soon as it went into my nose,&rdquo; Caraline says. &ldquo;I was absolutely in love with it.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>A new kind of high</strong></p><p>Snorting graduated to shooting up and that summer she and her new acquaintance &ndash; she never really considered him a friend &ndash; started heading to the West Side of Chicago to buy heroin. She remembers the first time they drove there, this guy was giving her instructions, telling her they&rsquo;d go to a certain street, get the dope quickly, and then she was to stash it &ldquo;in her crotch&rdquo; just in case they got pulled over by the police. The whole episode felt kind of exciting and risky.</p><p>Looking back at those trips now, as a 21-year old, she thinks back then she loved the ritual of it. &ldquo;It was a high in itself, just the process of getting it,&rdquo; Caraline says.</p><p>Her acquaintance was charging her $25 for a bag of heroin that cost him $10. She didn&rsquo;t know she was getting ripped off, but did know she didn&rsquo;t have that kind of cash. Caraline started stealing from her parents &ndash; and shoplifting clothing and jewelry from the &ldquo;junior&ldquo; section of an upscale store.</p><p>She got caught though, and even before she had to step before a judge, her parents immediately whipped into action. &ldquo;I mean my parents got me into an intensive outpatient program like within days of my arrest,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Caraline has a dual diagnosis for both addiction and depression. Since first entering treatment she&rsquo;s experienced long stretches of sobriety, one time for &nbsp;11 months, and a year and a half another time. &nbsp;But she&rsquo;s also been in and out of both intensive outpatient and residential treatment &ndash; and the hospital a few times.</p><p>About nine months ago she was living in a halfway house, working full-time and doing well. But she got complacent, she tells me, and just left out of there one night to get high with a friend. He overdosed that night and she drove him to the hospital when other friends didn&rsquo;t want to. The friend survived, but still -- it was the worst night of her life. She realized she just couldn&rsquo;t live like that anymore. So she checked herself into a residential program out in California that uses AA&rsquo;s 12-step model and has group therapy, art therapy, exercise, journaling and Bible study.</p><p>Caraline plans to stay in California at least a year, away from all the temptations that Chicago presents. She feels she&rsquo;s doing really well but says she has a lot of amends to make. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve done a lot of damage to my family and I think they know &ndash; because I&rsquo;ve been through it so much &ndash; that when I&rsquo;m in the grip of that, it&rsquo;s not me. And it&rsquo;s not the person I want to be.&rdquo;</p><p>She&rsquo;s positive, she tells me, that if she goes back to heroin -- she will die. So she&rsquo;s working hard to make this treatment work. But all that treatment doesn&rsquo;t come cheap.</p><p><strong>The high cost of private treatment</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Where she is now is out of pocket for us about six thousand a month,&rdquo; Joe Scally tells me. Joe is Caraline&rsquo;s father. &ldquo;The residential treatment she was in, was $700 a day.. .for six weeks,&rdquo; Joe says. &ldquo;Most of that was covered by insurance , but again, the insurance company said &lsquo;we&rsquo;ll cover it.&rsquo; Now we just found out in the last week, &lsquo;oh wait a minute, we&rsquo;re not going to cover 15 thousand of this.&rsquo; So we&rsquo;re fighting that.&rdquo;</p><p>Scally is a lawyer at the Child and Family Law Center in Highland Park. I&rsquo;m sitting here with both him and fellow attorney, Micki Moran, who founded the practice. Moran also has a son who&rsquo;s used heroin and tells me, &ldquo;In our office everyone knows someone who died from a heroin overdose in their late teens, early twenties. And the parents find them in the morning, dead in the bed. And I wish there was a way to sugar-coat that, but there isn&rsquo;t.&rdquo;</p><p>Scally has pulled a picture of Caraline out of his wallet and I see a beautiful girl riding a horse, looking strong and healthy. This was taken shortly after she got to her program in California. &ldquo;She looks really happy there,&rdquo; Scally says, his voice getting thick with emotion. &ldquo;And Micki will tell you. When they&rsquo;re using, it&rsquo;s almost like they&rsquo;ve lost their souls. There&rsquo;s nothing there.&rdquo;</p><p>Out in the suburbs, I find out, people can have a skewed view of what&rsquo;s causing the explosion of suburban kids using heroin. Moran takes pains to explain that this isn&rsquo;t her view. But what she often hears from parents is that &ldquo;the kid from Highland Park who drives down to the West Side and buys heroin, is the victim in some ways here.&rdquo; She doesn&rsquo;t agree with that, Moran &nbsp;says. But she hears people say that the &ldquo;the drug dealer who&rsquo;s standing on the corner selling it is the bad guy.&rdquo;</p><p>I ask Moran who actually, really thinks that. &ldquo;Almost everybody in the suburbs,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You know people have a completely different view of people who are dealing, as opposed to people who are buying.&rdquo;</p><p>Suburban parents can be in denial about their own childrens&rsquo; culpability, both Scally and Moran tell me. They may think their kids are being lured by outside influences like rap music &ldquo;which makes that whole drug-dealing culture seem glamorous and attractive. These are cocktail conversations,&rdquo; Moran says.</p><p><strong>But what about families without means?</strong></p><p>Meanwhile, the prices Joe Scally and other parents are paying for private treatment get me wondering how people with a lower income could afford to access treatment for drug use.</p><p>To understand that, first I need a big picture view of the Chicago metro area&rsquo;s heroin problem. So I head to the office of Kathie Kane-Willis, director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Opiate%20deaths-400.jpg" style="float: left;" title="(WBEZ/Patrick Smith)" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>She&rsquo;s sitting at her computer, crunching numbers for WBEZ so we can better understand who uses heroin, who gets treatment&hellip; and who dies.</p><p>Turns out, in 2012 whites in Cook County were way more likely to die from opiates, which includes heroin, &nbsp;than African-Americans.</p><p>For people ages 31 to 35, for example, eight African Americans died from opiates. In that same age group, 72 whites died. For people ages 21 to 25, the same pattern held. Three deaths of African-Americans in Cook County in 2012 and 34 deaths of whites. &nbsp;</p><p>Kane-Willis says there&rsquo;s no direct way to quantify the population of heroin users. So she looks at various measures, including hospital discharge data, emergency department mentions -- and right this minute she&rsquo;s on her computer checking admissions to government funded treatment in Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;When we look at African Americans versus whites entering treatment in 2011,&rdquo; she says, &ldquo;and we look at age breakdowns say under age 30 -- we can see that only 198 African Americans entered treatment who were under age 30 in 2011, compared to 3,689 whites entering treatment. &ldquo;</p><p>In fact, Kane-Willis says African American admissions to publicly financed treatment have dropped by more than a third in just three years. Searching for a cause, she speculates that some treatment centers may have closed or merged because of tardy payments from the state. And various government funding cuts could also be a factor.</p><p>But still, very few younger blacks enter treatment at all.</p><p>&ldquo;I do think that there&rsquo;s fewer young African-Americans who are using heroin,&rdquo; Kane-Willis tells me. Other drugs, yes. But heroin, not so much.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Generation%20gap-650_0.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Patrick Smith)" /></div></div><p>About 20,000 people with substance abuse problems pass through the doors of Haymarket Center each year. Because many of these clients are poor, about three-quarters of them get their tabs picked up by the government. Sometimes it&rsquo;s the children of those who were formerly well-to-do who end up at this center. Just about every treatment director I&rsquo;ve talked to has a story about someone who&rsquo;s had to refinance the mortgage of their home in order to pay for their child&rsquo;s drug treatment.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve had patients here who have spent $200,000 on private treatment only to have relapsed,&rdquo; Dr. Dan Lustig tells me. He&rsquo;s head of clinical services at Haymarket. &nbsp;&ldquo;And the parents become very frustrated. They get discouraged. But the reality is they don&rsquo;t get the education that on average it takes six to seven different treatment attempts, different episodes of care before a person reaches any period of sustained recovery.&ldquo;</p><p>Lustig says public treatment is typically every bit as effective as what you&rsquo;ll find at private, for-profit centers. In fact several experts tell me that there&rsquo;s often a higher standard at public treatment facilities, because they tend to use more evidence-based practices.</p><p>But there&rsquo;s one big difference between private and publicly financed treatment, Lustig tells me. &ldquo;What we have going on here is, and Haymarket Center is not unique to this, are waiting lists. For my outpatient program right now we&rsquo;re looking at scheduling people this second week in January. &ldquo;</p><p>And in the life of a heroin addict, can that be a big deal, I ask? &ldquo;That can be the difference between life and death,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;That is the key thing that our policymakers don&rsquo;t get -- is the importance of getting people access to treatment when that person needs it.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not hard to find someone who&rsquo;s been on a waiting list for publicly financed treatment if you visit the Chicago Recovery Alliance&rsquo;s needle exchange program. On the day after Thanksgiving I went to the van parked at the corner of Roosevelt and Whipple in the Lawndale neighborhood.</p><p>I&rsquo;d only been there a few minutes when an amiable man in his mid-thirties walked in the door looking for some free supplies like needles, cookers, and an anti-overdose kit.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LYDELL-450.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Lydell Harton (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" /></div></div><p>Lydell Harton was released from prison just a few weeks ago and he told me how he landed there. &ldquo;My last three prison sentences have been a result of heroin,&rdquo; he says. &nbsp;&ldquo;My heroin addiction, me going out and trying to get money, going into stores and doing, you know, things out of character that I wouldn&rsquo;t normally do to get money to support my habit.&rdquo;</p><p>And what were his offenses? &ldquo;Retail theft,&rdquo; he says. &nbsp;&ldquo;When it wasn&rsquo;t retail theft it was trying to hustle the spots, to sell drugs to support my habit and so forth.&rdquo;</p><p>Here&rsquo;s the thing. Before committing two of the last three crimes that landed him in prison, Harton says he tried to enroll in publicly funded methadone treatment. But both times he was told that the waiting list was for about six months. And for a heroin addict, six months is an eternity.</p><p>&ldquo;It could actually lead to death,&rdquo; Harton says. &ldquo;You know it takes money to support a drug habit, and as far as&hellip;in my situation I was looking for a change. &nbsp;I was trying to better myself to get off the heroin.&rdquo;</p><p>But he didn&rsquo;t get treatment fast enough and ended up in prison.</p><p>I tell Harton&rsquo;s story to Roosevelt University&rsquo;s Kathie Kane-Willis and ask if she thinks the negative impact of treatment waiting lists are overplayed. Her answer&rsquo;s a little on the sarcastic side: &ldquo;Well, if we don&rsquo;t care about people contracting HIV, Hepatitis C &nbsp;-- and possibly dying,&rdquo; she says &ldquo;then there&rsquo;s really no problem with that.&rdquo;</p><p>Besides her public health concerns, Kane-Willis has personal reasons to feel strongly about this. Earlier in her life, she was a heroin user living in California. She wanted to get on Methadone treatment but &ldquo;there was a waiting list and I got arrested for shoplifting,&rdquo; she tells me. While she was riding in the police car the police officer told her that there was no waiting list for treatment, that anybody could just walk in off the street and get Methadone treatment. But she knew better.</p><p>Lustig of &nbsp;Chicago&rsquo;s Haymarket Center tells me there&rsquo;s a correlation between drug addiction, arrests and imprisonment. Because when drug addicts are desperate for money, they will steal. &ldquo;When you don&rsquo;t have the beds available,&rdquo; Lustig says, &ldquo;this is the natural kind of path that people take. But we have to be aware that you&rsquo;re not going to solve the drug problem in the State of Illinois --or anywhere else-- by incarcerating these individuals.&rdquo;</p><p>When you look at the enormous amount of funding spent on corrections and prisons, Lustig thinks that money would be better spent on expanding the slots in community-based organizations for people to get treatment on demand.</p><p>Some people think we are headed closer to treatment on demand. Come January, we&rsquo;ll start seeing the impact of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Optimists in the field say once we&rsquo;re past the glitches, people who sign up will have health insurance &ndash; or access to expanded Medicaid &ndash; and that should dramatically increase access to treatment for lower income people.</p><p>But Lustig sees a cloud over that. &ldquo;This field is not ready for the Affordable Care Act,&rdquo; he tells me. &nbsp;&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not ready because there&rsquo;s not the volume of beds or slots needed so that when people need, or access treatment -- it is available. &ldquo; &nbsp;</p><p>The difference of opinion centers around whether treatment centers will be able to quickly ramp up and add capacity. Some treatment directors tell WBEZ there&rsquo;ll be enough new clients to pay for expansion. Others say the reimbursement rates from government programs are so low, there&rsquo;ll be no way to meet the new demand any time soon.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith contributed reporting for this story.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 12 Dec 2013 18:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/if-you-dont-have-money-or-insurance-you-may-have-wait-drug-treatment-109361 Chicago's Southwest Side, southwest suburbs home to major drug warehousing http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-southwest-side-southwest-suburbs-home-major-drug-warehousing-109341 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Heroin%20LLC%20photos%20044%20by%20Bill%20Healy.JPG" title="(WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></p><p>In the shadow of Midway Airport, Latino, black, white and Arab families live in the bungalow belt of the Southwest Side.</p><p><pthese a="" american="" and="" another="" are="" block="" block:="" bloom="" by="" calendar="" colorful="" displays="" flags="" from="" in="" like="" middle-class="" mirror="" neighborhoods="" of="" one="" p="" perennials="" swing="" the="" window="" working-=""></pthese></p><p>Yet, quietly but in plain view, part of Chicago&rsquo;s thriving drug trade operates here. Local and federal law enforcement officials have raided a small number of these residences as places that store significant loads of drugs.</p><p>WBEZ surveyed major drug and money busts over the last five years in the metropolitan area. We found 97 homes where law enforcement allegedly found narcotics. Thirty were on the Southwest Side of Chicago and another 20 were in the southwest suburbs. No other area had more reported drug busts.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Chart: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-southwest-side-southwest-suburbs-home-major-drug-warehousing-109341#chart">Where are Chicago&#39;s drug houses?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Here&rsquo;s a recent example:</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">In September, Chicago police allegedly confiscated $10 million worth of heroin and cocaine from a house</span> in the 3800 block of West 63rd Place.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">&ldquo;I know something was wrong in the house because only men lived there,&rdquo; said a neighbor on the block who said he&rsquo;s afraid to give his name.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">It wasn&rsquo;t just that only men lived in the rented home. Over a few months, the neighbor</span> noticed several cars parked out front with temporary license plates. But the men didn&rsquo;t cause obvious &nbsp;trouble, the man said. They sometimes spoke pleasantries to him in Spanish; so he didn&rsquo;t call the police.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">&ldquo;Because they don&rsquo;t make noise, no fights, no loud music,&rdquo; the man said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">And thus he was surprised when police stormed the house one September weekday morning.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">&ldquo;That day I was opening my garage to clean it up a little bit. I hear a noise like they pull a big garbage can or something like that. I look around and I don&rsquo;t see nothing. I come inside and I ask my wife, did you hear something? She said no. I looked through my window and I see a lot of police, detectives or narcotics,&rdquo; the neighbor said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">Whole neighborhoods of the Southwest Side are relatively crime free. Cicero, Harlem and Pulaski are major thoroughfares for trucks transporting merchandise. There&rsquo;s easy access to highways and a major railroad transfer station. Ease of transportation is one reason drug cartels are so invested in Chicago.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">Nick Roti, chief of organized crime for the Chicago Police Department, said drug trafficking organizations deliberately operate on the Southwest Side -- many workers in the business have connections to Mexico, so they can blend in more easily in neighborhoods among Latinos. And in areas where they can fly under the radar.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">&ldquo;They don&rsquo;t want to have a large police presence where there are a lot of shootings or gang activity where there&rsquo;s going to be a heightened sense of police awareness,&rdquo; Roti said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">The rented homes are for storage. Drugs aren&rsquo;t manufactured or sold in these stash houses. Roti said that&rsquo;s not what neighbors should look out for.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">&ldquo;They&rsquo;re going to see mostly just men coming in and out of the house. They&rsquo;re going to see people going in and out of the garage because they&rsquo;re not going to unload the drugs on the street,&rdquo; Roti said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">Jack Riley, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration&rsquo;s Chicago office, explains it further. He said often people who are in the heroin trade don&rsquo;t even grasp, &nbsp;say, the Sinaloa Mexican cartel - the organization Riley&rsquo;s doggedly trying to dismantle. Its leader El Chapo Guzman is considered the world&rsquo;s most powerful drug trafficker.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">Many of the men caught in the Southwest Side Chicago drug busts have been recruited to to bring heroin and drugs from their home country.<a name="chart"></a></span></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart_32.png" title="(WBEZ/Patrick Smith)" /></p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><strong>Source:&nbsp;</strong><em>For this chart, WBEZ identified the major drug seizures in the Chicago area since 2008, based on a survey of all press releases from the Chicago Police Department and the Chicago offices of the Drug Enforcement Agency, FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice. In these major busts, the drugs seized were worth at least $400,000, and often worth tens of millions of dollars.&nbsp; From this list, WBEZ looked through court records and official releases to identify the residences that were allegedly used to store large quantities of illegal drugs before they were moved to street-level dealers.</em></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">&ldquo;This happens all the time,&rdquo; Riley said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ll arrest a Mexican national and he&rsquo;ll say well, my uncle who lives in El Paso asked me to do this. There&rsquo;s no clear understanding that they&rsquo;re working for Sinaloa. They don&rsquo;t walk around with cards that say you&rsquo;re a card-carrying member of Sinaloa. That&rsquo;s how we have to make these connections from intelligence information, from telephone numbers.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">Of course, drug trafficking and sales aren&rsquo;t unique to Latino neighborhoods -- they happen throughout the city and suburbs. And in many places both traffickers and neighbors haven&rsquo;t&nbsp;</span>always connected the dots.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">That&rsquo;s certainly true among many families on the Southwest Side. Even some of the large busts haven&rsquo;t grabbed the attention from law-abiding residents. And police officers say it hasn&rsquo;t been an issue in community meetings.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">On the 6500 block of West 63rd Place in the Clearing neighborhood, a senior citizen woman dutifully tends to her grass one sunny October afternoon. A few days earlier, Chicago police arrested three men, recovered four guns and more than $1 million in narcotics on this very block.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">&ldquo;Clearly someone on this block was paying attention and noticed it. That&rsquo;s neighborly love right there,&rdquo; said 24-year-old Cassie Conkel who wasn&rsquo;t rattled by the raid on the block on which she grew up and still lives. She said people on the quiet, well-manicured block look out for each other - even though many didn&rsquo;t know the men who lived in the raided home.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">After news of the narcotics, Conkel says there was buzz among neighbors, but then it was business as usual.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t really think about the cartels being up here and stuff like that,&rdquo; said Conkel, adding that&rsquo;s because she&rsquo;s not in Mexico and doesn&rsquo;t think the violence will come here.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">&ldquo;This is a quiet neighborhood for the most part. You get fights and parties and all that stuff. It&rsquo;s not something we&rsquo;ve ever had to worry about. When someone brings it up, and says, well, the cartels are here, then I&rsquo;ll worry about it. I can only worry about what I can see,&rdquo; Conkel said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">Three years ago, extreme drug violence did briefly rattle a quiet Chicago Lawn block. Four men were shot execution style. They were discovered bound with duct tape and lying face down, reports said. The FBI and DEA were brought in because narcotics were involved.</span></p><p>Chief Roti, of the Chicago Police Department, remembers that case and says the shooters were caught. More important, he says, &nbsp;that type of violence isn&rsquo;t the norm.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">&ldquo;The cartel-related violence that we&rsquo;ve seen in the last few years in Mexico, I don&rsquo;t think we&rsquo;ll ever see that here. Not only because they don&rsquo;t want it to happen here because it would hurt their business, but because law enforcement is vastly different. I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s a major safety issue for people who live in that area. I have not seen any real violence that occurred outside of the circle of people involved in this related activity,&rdquo; Roti said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">Still, the man who lives on the block where the $10 million drug bust went down is now rethinking his role as a neighbor.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">Despite not knowing the criminal activity at the time, he wishes he had called the police when he felt something odd. Now he&rsquo;s telling his neighbors to do just that.</span></p><p><iframe height="480" src="https://mapsengine.google.com/map/embed?mid=zKdLvOTJ_oMo.k6DV1GFYnvn8" width="640"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">&ldquo;Some people they are afraid to call the police. You can call the police and don&rsquo;t give your name,&rdquo; the man said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-01332764-de70-ba26-e286-a2f4fed0655b">And he says the narcotics raid right on his block has him considering bringing back the defunct block club.</span></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author" target="_blank">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. She can be reached at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;or on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me" target="_blank">Google+</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.</em></p><p><i>WBEZ&#39;s Patrick Smith contributed reporting to this story.</i></p></p> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 15:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-southwest-side-southwest-suburbs-home-major-drug-warehousing-109341 The movie that brought Naperville face to face with its teens' drug use http://www.wbez.org/news/movie-brought-naperville-face-face-its-teens-drug-use-109332 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jeff%20Cagle.1_0.jpg" title="Kelly McCutcheon and Jack Kapson (Jeff Cagle)" /></div></div><p>During the 2011-2012 school year, three students from one public high school in west suburban Naperville died from drugs. Kelly McCutcheon was a senior at Neuqua Valley High School at the time, and she started asking her classmates questions about their drug use. The project turned into a documentary that stunned the well-to-do, family-focused community.</p><p>Kelly had enlisted a high school junior, Jack Kapson, &nbsp;to help with sound recording, and together they videotaped more than 20 students talking about their experiences using heroin and other drugs.</p><p>Their project was filmed starkly and informally in backyards and bedrooms and cars. The filmmakers kept the footage away from parents, teachers and police. Kelly and Jack declined to be part of this story, but they gave me permission to use any part of their movie and quote from students they interviewed.</p><p><strong>Library agrees to host Naperville&rsquo;s first look&nbsp;</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/95L 400.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Naperville's 95th Street Library hosted the screening (Bill Healy)" /></div><p>Kelly and Jack asked Naperville&rsquo;s 95th Street Public Library to host the first screening of the film, which they called, &ldquo;Neuqua on Drugs.&quot;</p><p>John Spears directed all of Naperville&rsquo;s public libraries at the time. &ldquo;The filmmakers were working on it up till the very end,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And that was one thing we were nervous about, because we hadn&rsquo;t seen it either. Given all the potential legal ramifications of showing this, we were really putting a lot of trust in two high school students.&rdquo;</p><p>Library officials agreed to two showings on Wednesday evening, May 30, 2012. Advertising went out, and soon after, irate parents started calling..</p><p>Spears, the library director, remembers one phone call in particular. He received it at his desk the day before the scheduled screening. It was a parent on the other end, telling Spears, &ldquo;You cannot show this movie. It&rsquo;s going to be the destruction of my&hellip;. it&rsquo;s just&hellip;. We will sue.&rdquo;</p><p>The library decided to go forward anyway.</p><p><strong>The screening</strong></p><p>The evening of the first screening, adults and teenagers filed into the library auditorium and people waited outside for the second showing.</p><p>&ldquo;There were many, many glitches that night,&rdquo; said Denise Crosby, a longtime columnist with the Sun-Times suburban papers, including the Naperville Sun. &ldquo;There were people gathered outside waiting for the next session and there were people inside for this session and there was a long delay. But [the audience was] there for the long haul&hellip;. They wanted to see it.&rdquo;</p><p>Among the hundreds of people who came to the library that night were the principal from Neuqua Valley High School, a counselor from a nearby middle school, and a reporter from the local television station. Managers from Naperville&rsquo;s other libraries came in to deal with the overflow crowd.</p><p>The young filmmakers had altered the &nbsp;voices of some speakers they videotaped, &nbsp;and a few kids in the film tried to mask their faces. But most participants were fully visible. And, according to accounts from people who were there, &nbsp;many of the participants were seated in the audience.</p><p>&ldquo;When it finally did get started,&rdquo; Denise Crosby said, &ldquo;there wasn&rsquo;t one person that was not glued to that documentary. There wasn&rsquo;t sound being made at all.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jeff Cagle.5_0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Jack Kapson waits for video to render during an hour-long delay before the first screening (Jeff Cagle)" /></div></div></div><p><strong>The kind of thing parents heard</strong></p><p>&ldquo;The first time I tried heroin... I&rsquo;d probably say sometime during my sophomore year.&rdquo;</p><div>&ldquo;They were like snorting it and I snorted like some Adderall and they were like if you can snort Adderall you can snort this. It&rsquo;s basically like the same thing&hellip;. You&rsquo;re trying to be like happy and just like not worry about anything but you are like stressing about all these little things, and when you get high that just goes away so you can just like chill.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s gives you a really strange comfortable feeling. A feeling that everything around you is okay. It&rsquo;s kind of like a false sense of security.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Denise Crosby, the newspaper columnist, &nbsp;says that for the two kids who made the film, &nbsp;&ldquo;This really was them screaming at the community: Look. Stop. Putting your head in the sand.&rdquo;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jeff Cagle.4_0.jpg" style="float: right;" title="(Jeff Cagle)" /></div></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>One mother&rsquo;s experience</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For another woman in the audience that night, the film was particularly painful.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Amy Miller&rsquo;s daughter Megan had died four months earlier from heroin. Megan was eighteen and a student at Neuqua when she died. The filmmakers had contacted Amy Miller beforehand to let her know that some of their interviews included stories about Megan.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And still, Miller says she wasn&rsquo;t prepared for what happened when a girl in the film talked about going to see &ldquo;Alice in Wonderland:&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" jeff="" neuqua="" on="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2_2_0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Amy Miller watches the first showing of 'Neuqua on Drugs'." /></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Megan was grounded at the time &ndash; but she convinced her mom to let us go if her mom came too. And so her mom sat on the other side of the movie theater and we were just tripping balls. Like we were sweating so bad and Megan had drawn a giant heart over her eye with eyeliner &lsquo;cause she was the Queen of Hearts and she drew stripes on my face because she was the Cheshire Cat.&rdquo;</div><div>&ldquo;I had no idea,&rdquo; Amy Miller told me when I talked with her recently. &nbsp;&ldquo;And here they were rows behind me in the theater and they took acid to watch the movie. And this is the first I&rsquo;m hearing about this, sitting in the library among hundreds of people, and the girl was in the row behind me and she leaned forward and apologized to me&hellip;. And that was pretty tough, you know? That was really hard. I was angry. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. It was like my daughter, I didn&rsquo;t know her.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Library head John Spears said that feeling of disconnect was common among adults the evening of the screening, and for a long time. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the one thing &nbsp;I heard over and over and over from everyone is: How could this have been happening and we didn&rsquo;t even know it?&rdquo; Underneath their confusion, he says, was shock. There was a sentiment among some people in Naperville that &ldquo;these kinds of things don&rsquo;t happen here.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I spoke to dozens of people in Naperville and I asked everyone, &ldquo;Did this harsh film make a difference?&rdquo;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Dvdsss.jpg" style="float: right;" title="The shelf life of the documentary remains to be seen (Bill Healy)" /></div></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The high school principal pointed to a student-led discussion program, which he says was being created at the same time students were making the documentary. Neuqua&rsquo;s also part of an innovative pilot program specific to heroin--it&rsquo;s a project of &nbsp;the Robert Crown Center for Health Education. That program is in two middle schools that feed into Neuqua, too.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A parent group recently got money from the city to create parent conversation circles.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Naperville police track where users live and sometimes do surveillance on kids buying drugs on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</div><div>Early on in my reporting, Jack Kapson - the young filmmaker who helped create &ldquo;Neuqua on Drugs&rdquo; - said heroin was still a problem in Naperville, though he thought it had gone back underground since the film was released.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 2013 so far, &nbsp;Naperville has had three confirmed heroin deaths&mdash;down from six in 2011. Police stress, however, that the number of overdoses means kids are still using as much as they did in recent years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Columnist Denise Crosby says it&rsquo;s a mistake to think &ldquo;Neuqua on Drugs&rdquo; was one high school&rsquo;s story, or even Naperville&rsquo;s story. &ldquo;People started looking at this as &ldquo;Oh, this is Neuqua Valley on drugs. So that&rsquo;s Neuqua&rsquo;s problem.&rdquo; And that&rsquo;s just simply &ndash; again I cannot reiterate that enough &ndash; that is simply not the case. Yeah, Neuqua was the epicenter for this. But this issue is in all of our high schools. It&rsquo;s everywhere. In all of our communities.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The film, she says, should have been titled, &ldquo;Your High School on Drugs.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Bill Healy is an independent producer. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/chicagoan">@chicagoan</a> and on <a href="http://billhealymedia.com">his website</a>.</em></div></p> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 02:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/movie-brought-naperville-face-face-its-teens-drug-use-109332 Heroin moves to Chicago suburbs in small amounts through users http://www.wbez.org/news/heroin-moves-chicago-suburbs-small-amounts-through-users-109326 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Eisenhower-overpass-justin-kern.jpg" title="I-290 is expressway to heroin for west suburban drug users (Flickr/Justin Kern)" /></div><p>Gabriela Muro&rsquo;s mother and stepfather live in a quiet townhome development in west suburban Aurora. The streets are named after trees and the uniform buildings are tidy. Next to the two-car garage is the front door, which opens to a two-story foyer with wood floors. When she was 15 years old Muro started making the drive from this townhome to Chicago&rsquo;s West Side to buy heroin. The first time she went she made the trip with the friends who had introduced her to heroin.</p><p>&ldquo;So I just remember like getting on 88 and then going to 290 and just going to this ghetto area off of Independence,&rdquo; said Muro at a recent interview at her parents&rsquo; house.</p><p>Muro quickly got over her fear of Chicago&rsquo;s West Side and started making the 60-mile round trip more and more often.</p><p>Muro had dealers that she used pretty consistently, a brother and sister that she liked. She&rsquo;d call them on a cell phone and they&rsquo;d ask her how much she needed and then they&rsquo;d tell her where to go. She usually went to their house at Austin and Washington, but sometimes her dealers would be out and about and she&rsquo;d have to meet them elsewhere.</p><p>&ldquo;Many time&rsquo;s I&rsquo;ve had to go to the beauty salon where the girl was getting her hair done and just wait outside until she was done. Many times I&rsquo;ve just had to go to their house and just have one of their family members come out and give it to us. We&rsquo;ve had to go to family functions like cook outs,&rdquo; said Muro.</p><p>Muro says she once went to Humboldt Park where the entire extended family was having a party. &ldquo;And they were all in like, I guess, their little business. They all knew what was going on.&rdquo;</p><p>The heroin trade relies heavily on networks. Dealers can&rsquo;t advertise so they use word of mouth and reward users who bring in new business. &ldquo;Oh yeah, like if we sent people their way they would hook us up with more bags,&rdquo; Muro said. .</p><p>Muro introduced a number of her suburban friends to her dealer. She&rsquo;s since realized that her friends who got her into heroin and took her to Chicago, they were doing the same thing. They were using her to get more for themselves.</p><p>As her addiction deepened, Muro sometimes found herself commuting to the West Side three times a day.</p><p>&ldquo;Well we would spend our whole day just, we would wake up in the morning, go straight to the city, come back, get more money, go back to the city, we were constantly working on getting our next high.&nbsp; It was like a full-time job being a heroin addict,&rdquo; said Muro.</p><p><strong>I-290 is a trigger</strong></p><p>Frankie Bauer has been clean for two months but this is his sixth time in rehab. He&rsquo;s relapsed five times. He&rsquo;s got to stay away from things that could trigger a relapse and the Eisenhower Expressway is definitely a trigger.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Frankie-B-300.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Twenty-two-year-old Frankie Bauer can’t drive on the I-290 Eisenhower Expressway because the temptation to pull off on the West Side and buy heroin is too great to resist (WBEZ/Rob Wildeboer)." /></div><p>&ldquo;Your stomach starts churning,&rdquo;&nbsp; Bauer recounted in an interview at the Blue Island library near the sober living facility where he stays. &ldquo;Dogs do that, they do that thing with the ringing of the bell. Ring a bell, show a dog meat. Ring a bell, show a dog meat ,and then ring a bell and the dog salivates. That&rsquo;s how it is with heroin addicts on 290.&rdquo;</p><p>Bauer is 22. He grew up in the western suburbs and remembers his friends prepping their syringes and cooking rigs in the backseat as they headed towards his dealer on Kostner just a couple blocks south of the Eisenhower. He says as soon as he got some heroin he&rsquo;d pull into an alley and take two minutes to shoot up and then get back on the highway. Or sometimes, he&rsquo;d shoot up in the parking lot of Rush hospital, which is nearby, just off 290. He and his friends knew the hospital because they also went there for drug treatment.</p><p>Bauer usually worked with the same dealer, but if his dealer didn&rsquo;t have any dope he&rsquo;d hit the blocks on the West Side.</p><p>&ldquo;You just hop off of 290 at you know, you could go to Harlem, Austin, you could go to Cicero, Independence, you could just get off at any of those exits and all you gotta do is look for a guy standing on the corner, just ride up to him say, &lsquo;Yo,&rsquo; he&rsquo;ll ask you what you need, you&rsquo;ll tell him and he&rsquo;ll sell it to you and that&rsquo;s really it,&rdquo; said Bauer. &ldquo;You could be pulling up and buying dope and the cops will just drive by. They don&rsquo;t do anything about it and it&rsquo;s disgusting how you could see people standing on the corner, and you know what they&rsquo;re there for, and you know what you can score from them, and nothing was done.&rdquo;</p><p>Of course, Chicago police do arrest lots of drug offenders, but driving around the West Side it&rsquo;s easy to see why Bauer thinks nothing is being done. Such open drug dealing is much less common in the suburbs-- one reason so many kids are commuting on 290.</p><p><strong>Naperville police monitoring heroin users</strong></p><p>&ldquo;If they bring anything back it&rsquo;s usually a small amount and they share it with their friends. So there&rsquo;s not a hub here, where heroin&rsquo;s being distributed, it&rsquo;s basically Chicago,&rdquo; said Naperville deputy police chief Brian Cunningham.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/suspected-users-2012-400.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Naperville police keep track of suspected heroin users (Naperville Police Presentation, 2012)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/networks-400.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Naperville police track networks of suspected users (Courtesy: Naperville Police Presentation, 2012)" /></div><p><strong>RELATED:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/heroin-arrests-sales-dealers-west-side-economics/Content?oid=11722393" target="_blank">The&nbsp;<em>Chicago Reader</em>&#39;s Mick Dumke on the business of drugs: The West Side&rsquo;s main employer&nbsp;</a></strong></p><p>Cunningham has spent much of his career either working, or overseeing, narcotics investigations. On his desk is a folder with the most recent crime statistics.</p><p>&ldquo;This, the current year, we&rsquo;re at three confirmed heroin deaths in Naperville,&rdquo; Cunningham said last week.</p><p>That&rsquo;s down compared to recent years when Naperville had as many as 10 heroin deaths but Cunningham says the number of overdoses has been consistent this year. He says that means kids are still using just as much as they did in 2011 and 2012.</p><p>&ldquo;We have kids doing burglaries. We have kids doing thefts but they&rsquo;re not actually dying from it so heroin is a huge, huge issue with us,&rdquo; said Cunningham.</p><p>In his file of crime statistics Cunningham has a map of Naperville with little stars. The stars represent heroin users in town. Not dealers, or drug markets--users. The police are trying to keep an eye on every addict. It&rsquo;s quite a contrast to Chicago&rsquo;s West Side.</p><p>Cunningham says Naperville police will follow kids into the city and do surveillance of them buying drugs and driving back to the suburbs.</p><p>&ldquo;The one thing about heroin addicts, from my own personal experience of dealing with them and arresting them and from the units, is that when you arrest a heroin addict, they&rsquo;re very willing for the most part to tell you exactly what&rsquo;s going on.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s almost like they&rsquo;re reaching out for help,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Cunningham admits that many addicts also share information hoping to get out of the station quickly and avoid dope sickness, the sickness that sets in when they don&rsquo;t have access to heroin. And because heroin dealing relies so much on networks and relationships, heroin users know each other and can share that information with police.</p><p><strong>Temptation too much</strong></p><p>Gabriela Muro from Aurora was once arrested in the city of Chicago. She says she led police to a dealer she rarely used because she didn&rsquo;t want to give up her main dealer, something that could have choked off her supply. She was also arrested in DuPage County by an officer who had been following them and recounted everywhere they&rsquo;d been that day, including shooting up in a Walgreens parking lot and then getting back on the expressway.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/munro-300.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Gabriela Muro sometimes drove from Aurora to Chicago’s West Side three times a day to buy heroin. (WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer)" /></div></div></div><p>Muro got probation a couple times and then was put in a drug court program, &ldquo;and I did well for like five months but drug court placed me in a halfway house on the West Side, like literally a block away from my dealer&rsquo;s house,&rdquo; said Muro. The temptation was too much.</p><p>Eventually she got charged with breaking into houses and got two years. She&rsquo;s glad she got such a long sentence. &ldquo;If I would have gotten out I would have been doing the same stuff because for the first six months that I was in there I still wanted to get high,&rdquo; she said. It took that long for her to get over her cravings.</p><p>Muro&rsquo;s now been clean for three years, long enough. she says, that she can drive down the Eisenhower Expressway without wanting to pull off to buy some heroin.</p></p> Mon, 09 Dec 2013 06:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/heroin-moves-chicago-suburbs-small-amounts-through-users-109326 From Mexico to the Midwest, a heroin supply chain delivers http://www.wbez.org/news/mexico-midwest-heroin-supply-chain-delivers-109320 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/two-cities_1.jpg" style="border-width: 0px; border-style: solid;" title="El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123570504&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>If you try to picture a drug trafficker, you will never think of someone like Juan Carlos González.</p><p>He is tall but dumpy. He is 31 years old but his face is so smooth I find myself wondering whether he ever has had to shave. He can puff up and put on a street voice but comes off like a school kid who has been bullied.</p><p>González agreed to meet me in El Paso, Texas, at his lawyer&rsquo;s office, less than a mile from the Mexican border. González, by the way, is not his real name. He spoke on condition we not use it.</p><p>He said he had lived in the El Paso area since age 3, when his mother moved the family from Odessa, his father&rsquo;s hometown, four hours west. &ldquo;My dad was never around,&rdquo; he said. His mom, who was a nurse then a gym teacher, raised him.</p><p>His route into the drug trade is well-traveled. He dropped out of school in 11th grade and started smoking marijuana, he said. Stuck in a fast-food job at a mall, González gravitated toward a certain co-worker.</p><p>&ldquo;I used to smoke with him and I used to always see him in fancy cars &mdash; a BMW, a big old truck, lifted up,&rdquo; he said. It was obvious his friend was working in narcotics. &ldquo;Get a car at that age? I wanted into that life,&rdquo; González told me.</p><p>He turned to his uncle, a marijuana dealer, who helped him into the business. &ldquo;I would bag it up and sell it to my friends,&rdquo; González&nbsp;said.</p><p>Over time, the amounts got bigger and the drugs got harder. As González kept getting in deeper, he knew he was betraying his mother. &ldquo;She&rsquo;s been there for me through all my troubles,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Here is where his story becomes less familiar to anyone who did not grow up along the border. El Paso has four bridges to Ciudad Juárez, a Mexican city where kids such as González would go to party. &ldquo;You would be able to drink until 7 or 8 the next morning,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>He found out it was much cheaper in Juárez to buy the drugs he was dealing. And it wasn&rsquo;t hard to cross back into the United States with the products. &ldquo;Coke and all that, with a girl or anybody, and just stash it in your pocket or anything, like you were drunk, and get it over,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Every time, every weekend, that&rsquo;s what we would do.&rdquo;</p><p>The Mexican city was also a great place to network. &ldquo;Say you and I are partying in Juárez at a club and we&rsquo;re cool and we see each other every time,&rdquo; González said. &ldquo;And then we start talking and, if we end up smoking, then it comes out that you have a cousin up in Atlanta, Dallas or Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>González was on his way to building a freight network that fed Chicago a range of drugs, including heroin.</p><p><strong>MOST OF CHICAGO&rsquo;S HEROIN</strong> comes from Mexico, according to narcotics authorities,&nbsp;and the crucial entry point is El Paso.</p><p>&ldquo;The reason I&rsquo;m telling you that is our cases still go back and forth&rdquo; between Chicago and El Paso, said Jack Riley, special agent in charge of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration division that covers most of Illinois and four other Midwest states. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s how we know.&rdquo;</p><p>When I visited El Paso and Ciudad Juárez myself, I kept hearing a similar line but from the supplier perspective: If you want to sell drugs throughout the Midwest, you need Chicago.</p><p>I also saw that the drug demand up north had brought a flood of cheap heroin to Juárez, the last Mexican city along Chicago&rsquo;s supply chain. Signs of the heroin trade were all around Juárez&rsquo;s central area.</p><p>In a busy market district, I saw a dozen addicts pacing near a dark shop, waiting for a heroin retailer to come out with their midday fix. When she finally emerged, the addicts converged on her like zombies.</p><p>Within a couple miles were several shooting galleries &mdash; what Mexicans call <em>picaderos</em>. I visited one, a dusty outdoor space between two cinder-block homes. There was no ceiling except for a few wood planks and old blankets. There was no place to sit except for a filthy cushion and an old couch covered by a dirty blanket.</p><p>The gallery did have two &ldquo;doctors,&rdquo; themselves heroin addicts. They lacked medical training but worked around-the-clock to help customers with injections. (A jones can bring trembling that makes it hard to shoot up.)</p><p>Within 10 minutes of my arrival, a 24-year-old woman in an orange baseball cap entered the gallery and handed one of the doctors her dose, roughly a quarter gram wrapped in foil. The heroin was dark and gummy, the size of a pea. The doctor mixed it with water over a match flame to melt it down. Then he filled a syringe &mdash; a clean one provided by a local health promoter.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JuarezShootingGallery-big.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left;" title="A ‘doctor’ at a Ciudad Juárez shooting gallery charges customers 10 pesos — or the equivalent in heroin — for help injecting the drug. (WBEZ/Luis Perea)" /></div><p>The customer directed the doctor to a vein on the back of her hand. First he drew blood into the syringe, confirming the needle had hit the target. Then he pressed the syringe&rsquo;s plunger, sending the heroin on its way.</p><p>The doctors helped three customers in a half hour. They charged each 10 pesos (about $0.75) or the equivalent in heroin. They told me a standard dose cost 50 pesos (less than $4) from any of several retailers within a couple blocks.</p><p>A street gang supplied by a drug cartel controls the sales in that part of Juárez. The gang also earns money by smuggling drugs to El Paso for distribution elsewhere in the United States.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JuarezGangMember1.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 240px; width: 250px;" title="A gang member in central Ciudad Juárez, the Mexican border city, says he uses a backpack to smuggle heroin into El Paso, Texas. (WBEZ/Luis Perea)" />I tracked down a mid-level member of the gang. We met in his kitchen. As I fumbled with my equipment, he stood still and silent in the corner. At least, I assumed that was him. He was wearing a hood and cloth mask.</p><p>I showed him I was just recording sound &mdash; no pictures or names. He agreed to sit down and take the mask off. He told me he was 34 and that he quit school in 4th grade.</p><p>&ldquo;My father was the one who started selling drugs,&rdquo; he said, adding that the man was killed as cartels swept away independent operators in Juárez.</p><p>The young man&rsquo;s gang aligned with one of the cartels. Now, he said, he spends a lot of time around a safe house &ldquo;packing drugs in backpacks and hiding them in cars.&rdquo;</p><p>Once in a while, he said, he had served as a mule himself. He said he had carried backpacks loaded with heroin to an El Paso stash house.</p><p><strong>THAT JOB IS NOT AS HARD</strong> as you may think. Heroin is not bulky like marijuana. By weight, it sells for more than twice the price of cocaine. An amount worth thousands of dollars fits in a pocket, shoe or bra. Multimillion-dollar loads turn up in suitcases, dashboards, bumpers, even drive shafts.</p><p>&ldquo;There is some sneaky stuff,&rdquo; said González, back in his attorney&rsquo;s office in El Paso, describing cars and trucks rigged with hidden compartments that open using magnets and secret levers. &ldquo;There is some Inspector Gadget stuff there.&rdquo;</p><p>With millions of pedestrian and vehicle crossings from Juárez every year, U.S. authorities find just a small fraction of the drugs.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PasoDelNorte-square1.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Cars and trucks wait in a two-hour line to reach the U.S. checkpoint on Paso del Norte, one of four bridges linking El Paso, Texas, to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Millions of vehicles enter the United States on those bridges each year, making it difficult for authorities to find hidden narcotics. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></div></div></div><p>González found opportunities. &ldquo;You meet truckers, party, drink and you just ask them right there: &lsquo;Hey, you know what? Would you like to take a load? I&rsquo;ll pay you this much money.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>He worked up to bigger loads. That brought him closer to the leaders of a cartel. He says he worked mainly in cocaine and marijuana.</p><p>González&nbsp;moved other products too: &ldquo;They would call me and tell me, &lsquo;Hey, I have 10 keys of heroin going to Chicago. Can you get them for me?&rsquo; I would be like, &lsquo;Yes.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>The retail price for that much smack, if pure, could exceed $4 million, according to data from the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.</p><p>González&rsquo;s truckers would carry legal cargo as well, so sometimes could not bring the heroin all the way to where the cartel bosses had ordered it. &ldquo;Say they wanted it in Maywood, but the trucker&rsquo;s route went to Kankakee,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>González would have to line up more personnel. &ldquo;You got to worry about who is going to hold it for you and who is going transport it for you,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>González directed one busy driver to acquire an 18-wheeler with a phony load so it would be ready to roll anywhere. &ldquo;I told him, &lsquo;Buy your own truck and buy your own trailer and buy yourself a whole trailer of some bullshit-ass fenders,&rsquo; &rdquo; he said.</p><p>González&rsquo;s business flourished, but there was no way to eliminate risks. &ldquo;You got to know who you are dealing with,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If the person gets caught, he can rat you out.&rdquo;</p><p>For truckers who got arrested, González said he would arrange the defense lawyer and pay the tab if he &ldquo;liked the person and he was really going to keep his mouth shut.&rdquo;</p><p>Snitches were not the biggest hazards. If a load went missing and González could not convince the cartel that cops had seized it, he would have to pay for it himself, he said. And if he did not have the money, he said, &ldquo;I would get killed.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>THE SUPPLY CHAIN WAS NOT</strong> always so dangerous. &ldquo;The chain dates back to the 1920s at least,&rdquo; University of Texas at El Paso anthropologist Howard Campbell pointed out.</p><p>For decades, the main product was heroin. Family-run businesses cultivated and processed the opium poppy a few hundred miles south in a mountainous region spanning the states of Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa.</p><p>Many heroin loads converged on Torreón, a city on the main highway north. From there, Campbell said, &ldquo;the drugs would be trucked up, or driven up in a car, to Ciudad Juárez.&rdquo;</p><p>Until the mid-1970s, the Juárez heroin trade was controlled by one person &mdash; a woman named Ignacia Jasso la Viuda de González, better known as La Nacha.</p><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ignacia%20jasso%20vdaCROP.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 294px; width: 250px;" title="Ignacia Jasso la Viuda de González, photographed during a Ciudad Juárez booking in 1942, controlled Mexico's main heroin corridor for decades. (Photo courtesy of Bob Chessey)" /></div><p>&ldquo;She would obtain supplies of opium and heroin and sell them locally in Juárez and to American and other traffickers that would bring them into the United States &mdash; to Albuquerque, Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago,&rdquo; Campbell said. &ldquo;She ran this business for almost 50 years with very little violence.&rdquo;</p><p>Things have changed. &ldquo;The supplies have increased over time as the number of heroin addicts has increased,&rdquo; Campbell pointed out. The product line, meanwhile, has expanded to include drugs from South America and Asia.</p><p>&ldquo;These businesses that were formerly run by families or individuals are now run by quasi-corporate entities called drug cartels,&rdquo; Campbell said. &ldquo;The violence in Mexico has skyrocketed in the last 10-12 years as the businesses have become more competitive and new cartels have emerged.&rdquo;</p><p>The most powerful cartel in Juárez these days is Sinaloa, whose name comes from one of those heroin-producing states. U.S. authorities say the Sinaloa Cartel supplies most of the heroin consumed in Chicago.</p><p>The people in charge of hauling the product &mdash; folks like González &mdash; don&rsquo;t typically have to line up the buyers on the Chicago end. That is the cartel&rsquo;s job.</p><p>And if you think the big buyers are street gangs, think again. An El Paso man who helped manage U.S. logistics for the Sinaloa Cartel told me the top Chicago wholesalers are middle-class business people.</p><p>He recalled signing some on: &ldquo;My cartel associate told me that he needed to meet them in person before we sent the dope up to Chicago. So they flew over, stayed at a hotel. After they were there a few hours in El Paso, I drove them to Juárez, to a nice restaurant to talk to my cartel associate. I translated for them &mdash; how many pounds of this or pounds of that they can move.&rdquo;</p><p>The former logistics manager said the meeting went without a hitch. &ldquo;My cartel associate liked these guys from Chicago and he had a friend that owned a strip club,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So they took them out to the club, and got them four girls and they went to hotels and everybody got laid there.&rdquo;</p><p>There were benefits, yes, and there were commissions. González said he rarely managed more than three loads a month and still earned as much as $360,000 a year. &ldquo;I thought I was bad-ass,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><strong>THEN GONZALEZ GOT BUSTED</strong> and all the money seemed trivial, he said. I agreed not to report specifics about his legal situation except that he served most of a three-year sentence in a federal prison more than a thousand miles from El Paso.</p><p>González told his mother &mdash; the gym teacher who always stood by him &mdash; that she could not visit. He said he did not want her hard-earned money spent on the airfare.</p><p>Once he got out, though, he had to face her. &ldquo;When I saw her from the time I was in, she had aged,&rdquo; he said, burying his face in his jacket and weeping. &ldquo;I felt bad. That&rsquo;s what did it.&rdquo;</p><p>If he went to prison again, he said, &ldquo;she would lose it.&rdquo;</p><p>González told me he is starting a trucking company that is above-board. But it could be almost impossible for him to stay at the border and work in the freight business legally.</p><p>He has the logistics experience but also the felony-narcotics record. And his cartel contacts will not forget about him anytime soon. He may have no way out&nbsp;of the drug-supply chain.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1" target="_blank">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me" target="_blank">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1" target="_blank">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 06 Dec 2013 09:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/mexico-midwest-heroin-supply-chain-delivers-109320 Heroin: It's cheap, it's available and it's dangerous business http://www.wbez.org/news/heroin-its-cheap-its-available-and-its-dangerous-business-109304 <p><p>Chicago is a major trafficking route for <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ap-impact-cartels-dispatch-agents-deep-inside-us" target="_blank">Mexican cartels</a> and has become a hub for the distribution of heroin across the Midwest. The dangerous result has been an increase in heroin overdose deaths in Illinois.</p><p>That has WBEZ and the <em><a href="http://chicagoreader.com/heroin%20" target="_blank">Chicago Reader</a></em> digging into how so much heroin gets here, how it&rsquo;s distributed and who gets hurt. Those stories will unfold over the next two weeks.</p><p>But let&rsquo;s begin with some background:</p><p>Heroin is purer, the street price has <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/heroin-its-cheap-its-available-and-its-dangerous-business-109304#price">significantly dropped</a> and the growing cohort of users is white suburban young people.</p><p>Jack Riley is the no-nonsense agent who runs the Chicago division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He&rsquo;s made it a goal to dismantle one Mexican cartel&rsquo;s grip.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really clear to us that Sinaloa really controls 70-80 percent of the narcotics in and out of Chicago and thus the Midwest,&rdquo; Riley said.</p><blockquote><p><strong>By the numbers</strong></p></blockquote><blockquote><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/heroin-its-cheap-its-available-and-its-dangerous-business-109304#seizures">Heroin seizures in the Chicago area</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/heroin-its-cheap-its-available-and-its-dangerous-business-109304#ervisits">Heroin-related ER visits by city</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;</strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/heroin-its-cheap-its-available-and-its-dangerous-business-109304#price">U.S. retail price of heroin&nbsp;</a></strong></li></ul></blockquote><p>The leader of the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/magazine/how-a-mexican-drug-cartel-makes-its-billions.html?_r=0" target="_blank">Sinaloa</a> cartel is <a href="http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tf1817.aspx" target="_blank">El Chapo Guzman</a>. He&rsquo;s considered the world&rsquo;s most powerful drug trafficker and is designated &ldquo;Public Enemy Number 1&rdquo; in Chicago. And, by the way, Riley says Guzman once put a bounty on his head.</p><p>&ldquo;Chapo Guzman is a logistical genius. He&rsquo;s been on top of the game for 25 years. He has an unlimited amount of revenue. He has the ability to corrupt, obviously to kill. And I think he&rsquo;s relentless in his control of the Midwest and heroin market,&rdquo; Riley said.</p><p>Riley previously worked DEA investigations in the border city of El Paso, Texas.</p><p>He said the cartel&rsquo;s focus on heroin is a market decision, based on Sinaloa&rsquo;s ability to produce and continue to supply the drug, with the cooperation of Colombian producers.</p><p>&ldquo;If you look into Mexico, you&rsquo;re seeing them really fortify their ability to produce high-quality poppies and in turn produce heroin on their own. That&rsquo;s something we hadn&rsquo;t seen up until the last few years. The majority of it was being produced by the Colombians. We&rsquo;re seeing the migration of two producers come together to serve one market,&rdquo; Riley said.</p><p>And that is contributing to the heroin problem in Chicago, its suburbs and the Midwest, because the drug is more accessible these days at cheaper prices.</p><p>The Sinaloa cartel&rsquo;s impact is currently playing out in a smattering of <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/October-2013/Sinaloa-Cartel/" target="_blank">federal</a>&nbsp;court <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/drug-trafficking-case-deal-flores-twins-witnesses/Content?oid=11463514" target="_blank">cases</a> in Chicago.</p><p><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/Heroin seizures_1.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" name="seizures" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Heroin%20seizures_1.jpg" style="float: left; width: 375px; height: 401px;" title="Click to enlarge (WBEZ/Patrick Smith)" /></a></p><p><a name="seizures"></a>Heroin dealing stretches throughout the Chicago region and collar counties.</p><p>However, the most visible aspect of drug trafficking is typically open-air drug markets in low-income areas of the city.</p><blockquote><p><strong>RELATED: <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/heroin-arrests-sales-dealers-west-side-economics/Content?oid=11722393" target="_blank">The <em>Chicago Reader</em>&#39;s Mick Dumke on the business of drugs: The West Side&rsquo;s main employer&nbsp;</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>And that face tends to be young black males on the corner. This group is also disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. &nbsp;And they&rsquo;re there for narcotics violations. Open-air drug markets disrupt quality of life and often invite violence in many Chicago communities. But they are just part of the heroin story.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of drug selling that occurs that isn&rsquo;t open air. We don&rsquo;t see that, so there&rsquo;s that hidden part,&rdquo; said Kathleen Kane-Willis. She is the director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University&mdash;and a former heroin user.</p><p>Kane-Willis said people of all races struggle with substance abuse.</p><p>&ldquo;The drug markets tend to reinforce existing beliefs about who uses and who sells drugs. So we tend to think of African-American males as users and sellers of drugs. As we start to look outside of that framework we can see that&rsquo;s not the case,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Experts say the upward trend of heroin use started in 2004. In fact, Metro Chicago now leads the nation in emergency room visits for heroin overdoses.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/Heroin related ER visits_1.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" name="ervisits" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Heroin%20related%20ER%20visits_1.jpg" style="float: right; width: 400px; height: 386px;" title="Click to enlarge (WBEZ/Patrick Smith)" /></a></div><p><a name="ervisits"></a>Kate Mahoney is the executive director of Peer Services, a suburban-focused treatment program based in Evanston. People trickle in for counseling and methadone, which treats heroin addiction, one weekday morning.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m shocked that I&rsquo;ve been doing this work for 30 years and in 1983 when I started working in addiction treatment, a bag of heroin cost about $50. And today in 2013, you can purchase a bag of heroin (for) between $5-10,&rdquo; Mahoney said.</p><p>That makes the drug more accessible. And people don&rsquo;t have to use needles anymore. Heroin can be snorted and is regarded in some circles as a recreational drug. Law enforcement officials say it arrives from Mexico 90 percent pure and is sold at a purity of nine to 12 percent on the street after being cut and pumped with additives.</p><p>Mahoney says decades ago, heroin was an end-of-the-line drug after people had been abusing 10 to 12 other drugs. But it&rsquo;s not always the case.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a number of parents on the North Shore who can&rsquo;t see or believe that their child has a problem. We&rsquo;ve seen young people die because they don&rsquo;t understand that it could be their child&mdash;who&rsquo;s going to a top high school and achieving well and simultaneously looking at college applications and prepping for the ACT or SAT&mdash;might also be using heroin,&rdquo; Mahoney said.</p><p>Chicago is uniquely positioned as a major heroin hub because of its centralized location and ample transportation that can help people deliver and disperse narcotics across the Midwest.</p><p>The Chicago Police Department is trying to curb the street violence that accompanies the drug trade. The police narcotics strategy is to erase open-air drug markets and turn those blocks back over to the community by coordinating city services and clean up.</p><p>But doesn&rsquo;t that mean drug dealing will move to another corner?</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think that law enforcement is going to fix the narcotics problem in this country. And many people would say that&rsquo;s blasphemy, but I think it&rsquo;s reality,&rdquo; Supt. Garry McCarthy said. &ldquo;The fact is what&rsquo;s our baseline issue: reducing crime and violence in the city. What I&rsquo;m trying to do is stop getting people killed on the street corners in the city of Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>But as long as the demand for drugs is high, the supply will be there<a name="price"></a>.<span id="cke_bm_227E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_226E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_248E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_247E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_246E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_245E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_244E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_243E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_242E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_241E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_240E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_239E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_238E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_237E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_236E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_235E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_234E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_233E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_232E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_231E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_230E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_229E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_228E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_227E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_226E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span><span id="cke_bm_225E" style="display: none;">&nbsp;</span></p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0AluraWM750W7dDhWUGxSM2VPY0NKY0R6elVRcE9RalE&transpose=1&headers=0&range=A1%3AAE100&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"titleTextStyle":{"bold":true,"color":"#000","fontSize":16},"animation":{"duration":0},"width":620,"hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":"Inflation-adjusted prices (in 2011 dollars) for purchases of 1 gram or less. Source: U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.","minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":null,"viewWindow":null,"maxValue":null},"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"logScale":false,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"logScale":false,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Heroin's U.S. retail price per pure gram","height":364,"legend":"none","focusTarget":"series","useFirstColumnAsDomain":true,"isStacked":false,"tooltip":{}},"state":{},"view":{"columns":[{"calc":"stringify","type":"string","sourceColumn":0},1]},"isDefaultVisualization":false,"chartType":"ColumnChart","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author" target="_blank">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. She can be reached at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;or on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me" target="_blank">Google+</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 04 Dec 2013 18:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/heroin-its-cheap-its-available-and-its-dangerous-business-109304