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Heroin Availability and Purity

Heroin availability is increasing in areas throughout the nation.  Heroin today is much higher in purity and lower in price. 

In the St. Louis area, Heroin is readily available at purity levels that exceed 50%, and the cost for an individual dosage is less than $10.00.  Demand has led to the emergence of open-air heroin markets, which serve as a breeding ground for violent disputes amongst competing street-level distributors.[1] 

In 1981, the average price per gram of pure heroin was $3,260 in 2012 U.S. dollars (USD) at the retail-level; by 1999, that price had decreased to $622 (2012 USD). (See Chart 1) Since that time, heroin prices have remained low and heroin purity levels, while fluctuating, have remained elevated.[2]

Notably, heroin is advancing westward across Missouri from the east. While Mexican black tar and Mexican brown heroin are more available in western areas of Missouri, South American and Mexican produced white heroin dominate in the eastern areas.  Chicago, Illinois-based street gangs are responsible for the majority of heroin available in eastern Missouri. Heroin in western Missouri is generally sourced from Texas and the other Southwest Border States.[3]


[1] DEA St. Louis Division Intelligence

1 (U) U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA Intelligence Report, National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary; April 2015.

[3] DEA St. Louis Division Intelligence

Seizure data indicates a sizeable increase in heroin availability in the United States. According to National Seizure System[1] (NSS) data, heroin seizures in the United States increased 81 percent over five years, from 2,763 kilograms in 2010 to 5,014 kilograms in 2014. (See Chart 2)

Seven[1] of the 21 domestic Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Field Divisions (FDs) ranked heroin as their number one drug threat in 2014. Another six[2] FDs ranked heroin as the second greatest threat to their areas. This was an increase over 2013. DEA heroin arrests nearly doubled between 2007 and 2014, and in 2014 heroin arrests surpassed marijuana arrests for the first time. (See Chart 3)

[1] (U) The National Seizure System (NSS) tabulates information pertaining to drug seizures made by participating law enforcement agencies.  NSS also includes data on clandestine laboratories seized in the United States by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.  The records contained in the system are under the control and custody of DEA, and are maintained in accordance of federal laws and regulations.

[2] (U) The Chicago, Detroit, New England, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington Field Divisions.

[3] (U) The Atlanta, Caribbean, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, and St. Louis Field Divisions.