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Where Does Heroin Come From

 

Where does heroin come from? Most heroin in the United States is smuggled into America from Mexico, Canada, the Orient (China), Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and the notorious Golden Triangle area of Southeast Asia (Burma, Thailand, Laos).

 

Heroin is a chemical substance that comes from the opium poppy plant which grows in fields. The pod contains white syrup that can be collected. When the syrup dries, it is what is known as opium. From this opium other drugs (Morphine, Heroin, and Codeine) are extracted. Often times morphine is extracted from the opium gum in laboratories close to the fields, and then converted into heroin in labs within or nearby the producing country.

 

Heroin is smuggled into the United States through the air, sea, land, and mail services. Once in the United States, heroin is distributed at the wholesale level, most frequently by Columbian, Dominican, Mexican, Nigerian, and Chinese criminal groups described as small, independent, and loosely structured. Retail- or street-level distribution of heroin is handled by a larger array of criminal groups. Gangs also are involved in the wholesale and retail distribution of heroin. Many members of national gangs, such as the Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and Latin Kings, keep links to heroin traffickers to guarantee a constant supply of the drug.

 

Heroin was originally produced in 1874; it was thought to be both non-addictive and useful as a cure for respiratory illness and morphine addiction. It was also thought that heroin would be capable of relieving morphine withdrawal symptoms. Later it was discovered to have the same pharmacologic effects as morphine and to be just as addictive.

 

In many parts of the world, heroin is used as an analgesic (for relief of pain), particularly for the terminally ill. In the United States the manufacture and importation of heroin is prohibited and it is not used medically. Heroin predominates in illicit narcotics traffic because it provides more potency for less bulk than morphine and is there by easier to smuggle.

Heroin has a very long history of use throughout the world. It is thought that the Arab traders during the 7th and 8th century AD took opium to China where it was used medicinally up until the 17th century. In Victorian times opium was taken by all classes in the form of pills or laudanum. Laudanum is opium dissolved in alcohol. As mentioned above, in 1874 heroin was created to be a cure for those addicted to morphine. With the intention of being a safe, non-addictive substitute for morphine, heroin fell short of its expectations. Soon it was noted that heroin produced addiction exceptionally quickly in many and was made illegal in 1920.

1853

 

Hypodermic needle-syringes with a point fine enough to pierce the skin are invented simultaneously by Charles Gabriel Pravaz (French surgeon) and Alexander Wood (Scottish physician). It is first used to inject morphine intravenously.   

1874

 

Heroin is first synthesized from Morphine by chemist C.R. Alder Wright at St. Mary's Hospital in London. Its potential was not recognized.

1897

 

Heroin is synthesized by Felix Hoffman at Bayer Pharmaceutical. Bayer immediately recognized its potential and began marketing it heavily for the treatment of a variety of respiratory ailments.

1898

 

One year after beginning sales, Bayer exports heroin to 23 countries.  

Early 1900s

 

Doctors and pharmacists begin noticing that patients are consuming large amounts of heroin containing cough remedies.

1906

 

Pure Food and Drug Act is passed, regulating the labeling of products containing Alcohol, Opiates, Cocaine, and Cannabis, among others. The law went into effect Jan 1, 1907

1911

 

British Pharmaceutical Codex notes that heroin is as addictive as morphine.

1913

 

Bayer ceases producing heroin.

1914

 

The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act is passed, regulating and imposing a tax upon the sale of Opium, Heroin and Cocaine for the first time. The Act took effect Mar 1, 1915.

1924

 

The Heroin Act passes, making manufacture and possession of heroin illegal in the U.S.   

1965-1970

 

U.S. involvement in Vietnam is blamed for the surge in illegal heroin being smuggled into the States.

1971

 

Between 10-15% of American servicemen in Vietnam are addicted to heroin.

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