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Crime Spike in St. Louis Traced to Cheap Heroin and Mexican Cartels

(New York Times, April 2, 2016)  In recent years, Mexican traffickers have inundated the St. Louis area with a new, potent form of heroin, drastically reducing prices for the drug and increasing its strength to attract suburban users.  The dispersal of the cheap heroin has led to a surge in overdoses, addiction and violence in cities across the country.  To attract customers, the cartels — usually through a local surrogate — instruct gangs to sell the drug at prices as low as $5 for each button (about one-tenth of a gram of powdered heroin, which could last a novice user an entire day). At times, the gangs distribute free samples, according to agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration.  READ MORE