Immigrants from an obscure corner of Mexico are changing heroin use in many parts of the U.S., reports the Los Angeles Times. Farm boys from a tiny county that once depended on sugar cane have perfected an ingenious business model for selling a form of Mexican heroin known as black tar. Using convenient delivery by car and aggressive marketing, they have moved into U.S. cities and small towns, often creating demand for heroin where there was little or none. In many, authorities report increases in overdoses and deaths.
Immigrants from Xalisco in the Pacific Coast state of Nayarit have brought an audacious entrepreneurial spirit to the heroin trade. Their success stems from both their product, cheaper and more potent than Colombian heroin, and a business model that puts a premium on customer convenience and satisfaction. Users need not venture into dangerous neighborhoods for their fix; they call in their orders and drivers take the drug to them. Users are encouraged to bring in new customers, rewarding them with free heroin if they do. In contrast to Mexico’s big cartels — violent, top-down organizations that mainly enrich a small group — the Xalisco networks are small, decentralized businesses.