Cheap Heroin Abundant in New York, Officials Say in Wake of Hoffman’s Death

Cheap heroin is easy to find in New York City, according to law enforcement officials who spoke after actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead with dozens of packages of heroin in his apartment.

The packages can sell for as little as $6 on the street, The New York Times reports. Some of the packages were branded with purple letters spelling out Ace of Spades, while others bore the mark of an ace of hearts, the article notes. At least five of the packages were empty and in the trash.

Heroin-related deaths rose 84 percent in New York City from 2010 to 2012.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials say heroin seizures in New York state are up 67 percent over the last four years. In 2013, the agency’s New York office accounted for nearly 20 percent of DEA seizures nationwide, with a value of approximately $43 million. During a raid last week in the Bronx before the Super Bowl, 33 pounds of heroin were found, along with hundreds of thousands of branded bags, some of them stamped “N.F.L.” Heroin bags are often named for popular celebrities or luxury products, such as Lady Gaga or Gucci.

People using heroin in New York and around the country are increasingly young and middle class. Many of them started abusing prescription painkillers before moving on to heroin.

Earlier this month, the DEA joined an investigation into the source of a batch of heroin that killed 22 people in western Pennsylvania. The heroin involved in some of the deaths contained the synthetic opiate fentanyl, often used during surgery.

Heroin containing fentanyl has also begun to appear in New York City, according to Kati Cornell, a spokeswoman for Bridget G. Brennan, the special narcotics prosecutor for the city.

Photo source: Georges Biard [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

5 Responses to Cheap Heroin Abundant in New York, Officials Say in Wake of Hoffman’s Death

  1. Skip Sviokla MD ABAM | February 4, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Reading the reporting on deaths from heroin can lead some to think that they or some loved one’s use of pills is different from “those heroin addicts”. I think it is important that articles such as this are exposing the lack of difference between heroin and prescription drug abuse. Skip Sviokla MD ABAM
    Author “From Harvard to Hell and Back”

    • Ei | February 4, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      Agree, Skip…

  2. thomas | February 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Is it known whether Hoffman’s overdose was from a dosage he had been accustomed to prior to his treatment for heroin addiction? I’m wondering whether heroin treatment programs in general are sufficiently pro-active about warning recidivist users about this danger — and whether his treatment program was. I hope the message is “we want you to quit — but if you can’t for any reason, we want you to stay alive.”

  3. Amy S. | February 6, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Such as sadness that we’ve lost Hoffman. Just a heads up- I’ve always heard that it’s best not to publicize the ‘brand’ of a drug that caused an overdose. Addicted people might look for that brand, assuming that it’s good and strong.

  4. Jon Gettel | February 6, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Isn’t this article a strong message for an end to prohibition. If Hoffman had access to safe, pharmaceutical heroin, he would be here today and we could help him quit rather than bury him and hundreds of others who inject heroin laced with fentanyl and are not used to that strength, OD and die.

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