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DEA: Be On Lookout For Inexpensive 'Cheese' Heroin

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- There's a new face of heroin, and it's expected to become one of the worst epidemics since crack cocaine.

It's called "cheese" heroin, a $2 mixed drug that's getting teens hooked, reports CBS 2's Lou Young.

Cheap, deadly and addictive -- what looks like a pile of parmesan is actually the latest way to market heroin. "Cheese"-- as it's called -- is part of an alarming campaign to get heroin into the hands of teens and children. New York's special narcotics prosecutor said it's time to sound the alarm.

"We've been picking it up on our wiretaps. They have a Spanish term for it, 'feeding the birdies.' If you 'feed the birdies' they always flock back to you," Bridgette Brennan said.

In making the cheese the dealers are taking just a little bit of pure heroin and mixing it with a lot of over-the-counter medication, putting it in small glassine envelopes and selling them for $2, essentially turning the hardest of hard drugs into a gateway narcotic.

"It doesn't have to show up in New York City. First it could show up in any town in the New York area," said Drug Enforcement Administration Agent-In-Charge John Gilbride.

The DEA said heroin is already a presence in our suburbs as well as in town. Agents have seen the pattern before in other parts of the country.

"The cheese that we seized in Dallas was about 2 percent heroin, a very low-grade heroin mixed with the acetaminophen or the Tylenol PM for more of an intense high," Gilbride said.

It's a high that has killed dozens of teens in the southwest. The lucky ones lived to talk about it.

"Everything just started getting blurry and my heart started beating and I couldn't breath," one victim said.

"Maybe they take one hit, they snort some before school starts and by second period they start to feel some symptoms of withdrawal so they snort it again. By lunch time they're snorting it again.  So they're taking it in incremental dosages, but they're taking a lot of it," Brennan said.

The DEA said 25 percent of all heroin confiscated in the United States is confiscated right here in our area so as far as this new threat is concerned it's not a matter of if it's a matter of when it arrives.


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