Demand for drugs in Newark is so high that sellers will literally kill each other to gain a little more market share, the Associated Press reports. Even as the city lowers its crime rate , including a nearly 33 percent drop in homicides last year , the illegal narcotics trade, dominated by heroin and cocaine, continues despite the coordinated efforts of many law enforcement agencies. It is the primary source of local violent crime, and it thrives for simple reasons: Heroin in Newark is cheaper, purer and more plentiful than it is elsewhere, and the city’s location at the nexus of every type of transportation makes access quick and easy.
Newark’s drug trade received extra attention with the second season of “DEA,” a reality series that follows Drug Enforcement Administration agents as they track and arrest suspects in and around Newark. Officials objected to promos for the first installment, which aired last Tuesday and called Newark “one of the most dangerous cities in America.” Spike TV agreed to tone down the language, but the perception remains. Former Newark Police Director Anthony Ambrose, a 23-year veteran of the drug wars and now chief of detectives for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, has seen Newark’s drug trade evolve from a loosely organized network of independent operators into an industry orchestrated by gangs that migrated from the West Coast.