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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"I'll Have the McBlacktar Burrito Combo #1. Super-size It, Please."

"The Justice Department's National Drug Intelligence Center estimates Mexican cartels control distribution of most of the methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana coming into the country, and they're
increasingly producing the drugs themselves.

"In 2009 and 2010, the center reported, cartels operated
in 1,286 U.S. cities, more than five times the number
reported in 2008. The center named only 50 cities in 2006."

(Eliott C. McLaughlin, "In Small-Town USA, Business as Usual for Mexican Cartels," CNN, June 12 2012)

Target communities often have an existing Hispanic population and a nearby interstate for ferrying drugs and money to and fro, said author Charles Bowden, whose books on the Mexican drug war include Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields.

"I'm not saying Mexicans come here to do crime, but Mexicans who move drugs choose to do it through areas where there are already Mexicans," he said.

Evidence of the cartels' presence in small-town America isn't hard to find. Take the 66 kilos of cocaine found in a warehouse in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, in February 2011. Or the Wyoming, Michigan, man denied bail on drug charges last year because he had alleged cartel connections. Or consider that a surge of Mexican black tar heroin into Ohio pushed the price per kilogram down from $50,000 in 2008 to $33,000 in 2009.

Farm boys from a tiny county that once depended on sugar cane have perfected an ingenious business model for selling a semi-processed form of Mexican heroin known as black tar.

A Brief History of Today's Heroin In Central Ohio

This information has been taken from Jose Diaz-Briserio's PDF "Crossing the Mississippi: How Black Tar Heroin Moved Into the Eastern United States." Please read the text in its entirty here: Sorry, Jose, for taking much of the copy, but the detail is important for citizens of our area in order that they understand the specifics of heroin distribution.

"Evidence suggests that operatives like Raúl Villa-Guerra who arrived in the late 1990’s are responsible for turning the central Ohio heroin market into a market for Mexican black tar. The number of heroin cases at the Columbus police crime lab more than doubled from 53 between January and June of 2006 to 107 between July and December of 2008.

"By 2007, the central Ohio heroin market was dominated by Mexican black tar after almost two decades of dominance by Colombian white heroin.

"Crisscrossed by at least two important inter-state highways, Columbus became not only a favorite market for black tar consumption but it also transformed itself into a major trafficking hub to supplying other U.S. geographical regions: the Northeast, the Great Lakes, the Midwest and Appalachia.

"Federal officials in charge of narcotic investigations in Columbus estimate that 80 percent of their cases now originate along the Southwest border. In the case of black tar heroin, cells in Columbus obtain their product from cities in Southern Arizona (Phoenix and Tucson) after being transported by operatives across the U.S.- Mexico border all the way from Nayarit.

"Black tar heroin would be transported in private vehicles from Arizona into Columbus trying to make few stops in order to lessen the chance of detection and interdiction. In 2006 an ounce of black tar sold for $800 to $850 in the city of Phoenix. Currently, the price of black tar in Columbus Local law enforcement in Columbus believe that there are currently at least 20 different black tar heroin cells in central Ohio working independently and comprised of 4 or 5 individuals and a cell head. Most cells work solely on the distribution of black tar heroin, so police only occasionally find other drugs while executing search warrants in safe houses.

"The very fact that these cells are dealing only with black tar is a feature that distinguishes them from the operations of the major Mexican DTO's, considered to be poly-drug organizations, Local and federal law enforcement have found that the heroin hitting the streets of Columbus in the past 5 to 6 years comes from the Mexican state of Nayarit. Just as in the case with Villa-Guerra, most of the people arrested working in these cells are from the municipality of Xalisco, a verdant county in the foothills of the Sierra Madre in Nayarit.

"Formed by independent growers/brokers and traffickers, these networks are less structured and are responsible for the transportation of the drug from areas like Nayarit into various U.S. cities. The
Nayarit cells deliver to Columbus a highly addictive product with levels of purity not seen before in this heroin market.

"At the heart of its success is the fact that the Nayarit cells in Columbus transformed the heroin business into a suburban sales phenomenon, no longer synonymous with dark alleys in inner cities or rooms filled with mattresses and other similarly sordid scenes like in the movies of the 1970’s. Local law enforcement in Columbus has found that the best way to characterize the distribution business model in the city would be somewhat like a fast food drive-thru restaurant, explained in the following table:


1. Trafficking cell formed by one head (dispatcher) and some sellers (runners)

2. Customers place heroin orders via phone to the dispatcher

3. Runner is sent to deliver order; usually in or around suburban parking lots

4. Runner and buyer would make eye contact in the store parking lot

5. Buyer will board the runner’s car where transaction occurs, then leave

Source: Affidavits before the Federal District Court of Southern Ohio.

"Mexican ‘black tar’ heroin cells have managed to flourish in the Columbus area by mastering this suburban retail system. Operating in direct communication with the source of heroin in Mexico, cell heads and runners also do not live the flashy, drug trafficker lifestyle and try to remain inconspicuous.

"It is clear from interviews with law enforcement that these heroin trafficking cells do not work with local organized, juvenile gangs and there is little public evidence that they engage in violence. Typically, a team of runners under the direction of a cell head would be provided a nondescript
home in upper and middle class neighborhoods along with sleeping bags or mattresses.

"They would also be given non-descript ‘ junker’ cars for deliveries and be paid around $500 a week. Law enforcement likes to say that these cells are particularly good in counter-surveillance often talking in code and monitoring streets.

"Runners and the cell head would also have a separate location where they will divide the product and prepare personal doses, wrapping them in plastic balloons.

"According to court documents, each of the cells works independently from each other, and are not dependent on the other for distribution. Yet, cell heads in Columbus speak to each other whenever they are running out of product. Local police report that 3 out of 4 of those arrested for participating in any black tar cell are undocumented immigrants from Nayarit. Much in the mold of Villa-Guerra,
runners are mostly youngsters from villages in Xalisco and are paid $400 to 500 per week. Many are recruited directly in Nayarit and sent by the leader in Mexico to work in a specific cell.

"Other than the cell leader, who maintains contact with the source in Mexico, the runners are, in many ways, disposable assets within the organization, according to police agencies. With a growing Mexican population in Central Ohio, members of these cells have found cover among hard-working immigrants in the area. In Franklin County, for example, the Mexican immigrant community
doubled in size between 2000 and 2008 from 12,005 to an estimated 26,319 according to the U.S. census.

"Equally important to the development of a very efficient distribution model is a domestic market force that swept Ohio in the early 2000’s. Beginning in 2000, abuse of prescription opioids started an upward trend in the state that continues today. At the same time that the Nayarit cells were rushing to capitalize on their product, they encountered the rising trend in some cities east of the Mississippi of addicts hooked on U.S. prescription opioids such Oxycontin or Vicodin, with a similar narcotic effect
to heroin.

"Overdoses from artificial opioids were so high in Ohio that in 2008 they became the number one reason for unintended deaths surpassing motor vehicle accidents for the first time in history. Mexican cells identified a huge business opportunity by offering these addicts a less expensive product with the same (or even stronger) narcotic effect. According to state studies, 65 percent of heroin abusers in Ohio between 18 and 30 entered into heroin use from prescription opioids."


Ohio "Tar" Bubbles Over

Don't let the name "black tar" fool you, this dark blob is the newest and purest form of heroin hitting the market. Black tar dealers are cashing in by selling cheaper and more potent highs to former prescription drug users in middle-class communities across America.

“The Mexican drug cartels are coming into affluent neighborhoods like Grandview, Upper Arlington, Dublin neighborhoods because they know they won’t have the competition with gangs,” said Sgt. Leslie Jackson of the Grandview Heights, Ohio Division of Police. “We’re hoping that they walk away with an idea of what to look for, the dangers.” ("Father Warns Of Growing Black Tar Heroin ‘Epidemic,’" WBNS News 10, May 30 2012)

10TV’s Kevin Landers reported a story about Paul Schoonover and his first-hand witness to the effects of heroin in Ohio. Schoonover’s son, 21-year-old Matthew, died on May 11 because of a heroin overdose. Schoonover said that he and his wife had no clue that their son was an addict until it was too late. “We had no idea this was going on. Matt was a totally functional drug addict,” said Schoonover.

“He (Matt) said, ‘I’m taking heroin,’” Schoonover said. “We weren’t really sure, because he was a great jokester, but when he started to cry, at 6 feet 6 inches, 310 pounds, we knew he was serious.”

The family put Matthew in rehab. He was sober for 19 days, and on the 20th day, he died, Landers reported.

At a forum at Grandview Heights High School organized by police to address concerns about black tar heroin, Schoovover asked, “As parents, do you want to own your child’s death certificate?” He stated, “Guys, this is a deadly, deadly epidemic, and it’s only banding together that we can stop this.”

Like the Schoonovers, many parents of heroin addicts are unaware of their child's criminal activity. Brad Koffel, a Columbus criminal attorney said, "The parents are just turned on their heads. They're educated, they have jobs and they're trying to do everything right, responsibly to bring up their kids and then they get hit in the side of the head with they find out that the kids are stealing and lying in order to get money to feed their cravings for heroin, which come in a matter of hours after their last use." (Tanya Hutchins, "Black Tar Heroin Use Growing Among Young People," NBC 4, September 23 2010)

Koffel never knows who's sitting on the other side of the door, when he walks into his conference room. More often, he sees well-dressed young people in preppy clothes rather than what people think of as stereotypical heroin junkie characters often seen in movies.

Even Closer To Home

Do you want to see proof of the heroin problem a little closer to Scioto County? Joel Adolfo Borjas-Hernandez, a Mexican national, was sentenced 2011 in federal court to 25 years in prison.
Hernadez, 25, who uses the name "Carlos Salazar" for business dealings, pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his role in the distribution of black tar heroin that was linked to several fatal drug overdoses in the Huntington, West Virginia area.

Hernandez conviction was part of a long-term investigation by the Huntington Police Department, Cabell County Sheriff’s Office, the Huntington Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, FBI and DEA   that resulted in the convictions of approximately 20 individuals.

The investigation revealed that people from the Huntington area were traveling to Columbus, Ohio to obtain Mexican black tar heroin from an individual known only as “Carlos.” Most of those people obtained the heroin either from Columbus dealers supplied by Carlos’ organization or from runners working for Carlos. Eventually, investigators were able to make purchases of black tar heroin from the organization using informants and undercover investigators. Several witnesses identified Carlos as Joel Adolpho Borjas-Hernandez.

At his plea hearing, Borjas-Hernandez told the court that throughout his involvement in the organization, he and another man received 15 bags of heroin at a time from two men in Columbus. Borjas-Hernandez further stated that the two then distributed the heroin to street-level dealers in and around Columbus, Ohio. He further acknowledged that some of those dealers distributed the heroin to individuals from Huntington where the heroin was resold and used. ("Black Tar Heroin Ring Leader Sentenced to Prison," WSAZ News Channel 3, January 19 2011)

I am reporting the news and not profiling Mexican-Americans. The distribution of heroin is not limited members of a cartel. From recent news -- an Ohio man is facing felony drug charges after Troopers with the Gallipolis Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol seized over $23,000 in contraband from his vehicle following a traffic stop last week.

According to a release issued by the Gallipolis Post, the stop occurred near milepost 17 on U.S. 35 in Gallia County. A 1994 Pontiac Firebird driven by Heath A. McGarvey, 26, of Chillicothe, was stopped for a marked lanes violation. Reportedly, criminal indicators were observed by troopers at the stop and a consent search revealed 149 Opana tablets, 25 grams of cocaine and 105 grams of heroin. McGarvey was charged with the possession of heroin, a first-degree felony, as well as the possession of cocaine and the possession of Opana, both second-degree felonies. ("Traffic Stop Nets $23K in Illegal Drugs," Gallipolis Daily Tribune, June 7 2012)


Please watch "Halting Heroin - Black Tar Heroin" video here:

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