Vice Squad
Friday, January 09, 2004
Pure (or Adulterated) Heroin Deaths in Chicago

Today's Chicago Tribune (registration required) brings us a brief notice that three Chicago residents have died, and a fourth is hospitalized, apparently as a result of using adulterated heroin. Actually, the Trib speculates that the deaths are overdoses, but I suspect that it was toxic adulterants, and not the dose of heroin per se, that did this damage. In any case, as there is no reason to believe that the damage was intentional, these deaths, too, alas, must be laid at the doorstep of our policy of prohibition. Update, January 10: According to a follow-up in today's Trib, the police are more certain that these deaths are overdoses due to a supply of unusually pure heroin, so my suspicion that the drugs were adulterated was probably wrong. (I changed the title for this post accordingly.) Two men were arrested in connection with this batch of heroin, though there is no precise claim (at least in the Trib story) that one of them sold the drugs to the victims. (One of the arrestees was charged with selling, the other, with possession.) The heroin addict world is not a pretty place; do you know what happens when word of overdose deaths hits the streets? It produces a surge in demand for the responsible product, on the grounds that it must be particularly potent stuff.

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