Competition among heroin dealers results in deadlier drug

NEW YORK -- Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman withdrew $1,200 from ATMs the day before he was found dead with 70 packets of heroin in his apartment. The heroin for sale today has changed in dangerous ways.

Jamie Hunt is the acting special agent in charge of the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

New York has always been the hub for heroin in the U.S.  

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Jamie Hunt
CBS News
 "The vast majority we see here in New York is coming from the southwest border -- Mexico, South America," Hunt says.

Hunt says it comes in cars, tractor trailers, body carriers and couriers on planes.

"There's tunnels along the border," he adds.

Heroin seizures on the border with Mexico skyrocketed nearly 300 percent in just four years. Narcotic agents say dealers competing for customers are not diluting the drug as much as they used to. 

 "So there is a marketing scheme there," Hunt says. "They want addicts to know, 'This is my product, this is better than the guy down the street.'"

That's contributed to an 84 percent increase in heroin-related deaths in New York City in just two years. In Pennsylvania, dealers went further: they added the pain killer fentanyl, which can be 100 times more powerful than morphine. The heroin/fentanyl blend was found in 22 overdose victims last month.

"Any time a heroin addict takes heroin, it's like playing Russian roulette," Hunt says. "Because you don't know where it came from, you don't know who mixed it, and you don't know what's in it."

The DEA says drug dealers make a special effort to market their drugs around large events, like sporting events or popular movies. During the week of the Super Bowl, the agency seized heroin bags stamped with the NFL logo.

  • Vinita Nair

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