Pubdate: Fri, 10 Mar 2000
Source: Cincinnati Post (OH)
Copyright: 2000 The Cincinnati Post


Heroin use and sales are surging in the Cincinnati area, with the
number of arrests involving the illicit drug climbing from less than
20 in 1990 to more than 400 last year, according to a city drug
enforcement officer.

Much of the dealing occurs in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood
- - and in particular 15th and Elm streets, says Specialist Dan
Shoenfelt of Cincinnati's Street Corner Unit.

Police say the increase is due to the lower cost and higher quality of
Colombian heroin flooding the country and gaining in popularity over
cocaine. The market previously was dominated by heroin shipped from

It's easy for the Colombians because they already have drug

gling infrastructure in place, said Shoenfelt. When they introduced
heroin in the U.S. market in 1995, they introduced a heroin that had a
high purity and a low cost, as compared to the heroin coming from
southeast and southwest Asia.

Because of this low cost and high purity, the drug was open to a
greater spectrum of users, he said. Now, because of the high purity,
the drug can be snorted much like

powder cocaine, rather than the traditional method of injecting the

Drug enforcement officers are seeing young people who used to sell
crack cocaine getting into the heroin trade, said Shoenfelt.

While crack cocaine remains the more prevalent choice in Cincinnati,
arrests for trafficking in hero in and possessing heroin in the city
and Hamilton County have soared from 19 arrests in 1990 to 464 in
1999, he said. The increase is consistent with increases across the
nation, he said.

In Cincinnati, we are finding 'poly drug users.' They use a variety of
drugs, especially cocaine, Shoenfelt said.

One gram of crack cocaine (which is 1/28 of an ounce) is worth about
$100 to the street dealer, he said. One gram of heroin will get a
dealer about $1,000 on the street, he said.

Recently Street Corner officers arrested a 17-year-old male who had
seven grams of pure heroin on him. That's a lot of dope for a
17-year-old, said Shoenfelt.

Most of the heroin people we have arrested have told Street Corner
officers they go to Dayton a lot. However, the real entrepreneurs - if
they want to get it cheap and readily available - will run the risk
and make the trip to New York City, he said.

People who have become addicted in the past year or two have all told
me they started by inhaling heroin, but inevitably moved on to
injections, he said.

Shoenfelt, who is tracking heroin use in Cincinnati for his master's
degree in criminal justice at Xavier University, recalled arresting a
man in his 20s two years ago who was hooked on heroin. The man started
by snorting and then began injecting it with needles.

Then he went on to get all his friends addicted to heroin, Shoenfelt
said. At the time we arrested him, he had a $100 a day habit. Imagine
trying to support a $100 a day habit? He said he would do anything to
get the money for his habit.
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