A Lancaster, Pa., couple seemed nervous as they waited at the Bogota, Colombia, airport, to board a flight to the U.S., says the Philadelphia Inquirer. It turned out that hidden in their backpack and videocamera case were almost 29 pounds of heroin; the intended destination was Philadelphia. New York City remains the hub of heroin trafficking on the East Coast. But Philadelphia’s heroin trade has skyrocketed, and police say it has spilled into the suburbs and surrounding rural areas.
Chief Inspector Keith Sadler of the Philadelphia Police Narcotics Bureau said the city’s location made it ideal for heroin distribution. “The demographics are ideal,” Sadler said. “We’re a stop along the way, not to mention that we are also a port city. We have one of the major airports in the country as well.” He added: “While everything else in the country has gone up, heroin has stayed the same price.” The purity of Colombian heroin – which makes up 90 percent of the supply on the East Coast – allows users to snort it, avoiding the stigma and increased health risk of injecting it. That has brought in a new kind of user. The Department of Justice says that 0.2 percent of college students reported using heroin in 2003. That was double the rate in 2002, and the increase came after several years of steady decline.