The flow of heroin from Mexico to Houston is surging wildly as federal agents, state troopers and police report a 500 percent increase in the amount of the opiate seized in the city and region during the past year, reports the Houston Chronicle. So much of the drug was confiscated in a 17-county area that includes Houston and swaths of the Texas Gulf Coast that it would conservatively be enough for 3 million doses, says the Drug Enforcement Administration. “I don’t think we could use that much in a year,” said Steve Whipple, agent in charge of the DEA’s Houston Division. “They are shipping it to places where they can make more money, where there is more robust demand.”
In large part because heroin has become cheaper and more plentiful, it has gained a foothold with a new generation of users in the U.S. Heroin got widespread attention in February with the fatal overdose of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. In Harris County, deaths attributed to heroin have greatly increased, with 49 last year. That is up from 32 in 2012, says the medical examiner’s office. There have already been 19 this year. Most heroin found in Houston is from Mexico and is believed to be pumped along the artery of highways that reach deeper into the U.S. The price for heroin in the Houston region dropped from $1,200 per ounce in 2012 to $800 per ounce in 2013.