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Special Report Part 1: The History of Heroin

Updated: Tuesday, May 6 2014, 02:38 PM CDT

NATIONWIDE -- Hooked on Heroin. Tonight we begin a month long investigation into the heroin epidemic.

Every Monday in May we'll be digging into the causes and effects of this deadly drug in our community.

For our first report, Newschannel at Nine's Chris Vanocur spoke with someone who is very knowledgeable about the history of heroin in this state.

Sam Quinones is a Los Angeles Times reporter who's been writing about heroin for years. In fact, he's now writing a book about how Mexican black tar heroin makes its way into this country.

Ironically, Quinones tells us, "There wasn't much heroin in Columbus for many years. But then, in the late 90's, that changed. Starting in a little known area of Mexico, the state of Nayarit, the 'heroin highway' eventually made its way to central Ohio."

As Quinones explains it, "Guys from the state of Nayarit found Columbus to be an very interesting market, primarily because they had been a lot of pills there already."

Columbus quickly became a bit of a heroin hub. According to Quinones, the deadly drug took hold here because it could be delivered quickly, "There's anywhere from 7 to 9 to 10 crews out, heroin traffickers circulating - business hours 7 am to 7 pm, 7 days a week."

Also, he says, heroin can also be delivered conveniently, "You call up, they send you a driver, a driver meets you at a Burger King or a CVS pharmacy somewhere, you follow him down some side street and you make the deal in his car."

What's more, for an illegal and deadly business, Quinones says, dealers place a surprising emphasis on customer service. "They have been able to sell the idea that whatever you buy from us will always be a good quality. And if it's not good quality, we'll give you more for free."

Sam Quinones says the demand for heroin in central Ohio is enormous and self-sustaining. If a dealer or driver is arrested, another from Mexico is on the way.

As he puts it, "It's a system that continually reproduces. It's kind of a hydra-headed thing. You cut off the head and pretty soon it grows right back."

Special Report Part 1: The History of Heroin

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