"Heroin Houses" Haunt the Suburbs

By McCarton Ackerman 02/21/13

A report says dealers are increasingly drawn to the privacy and protection of suburbia.

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New York City heroin dealers are beginning to move away from the island and set up shop in nearby suburbs, CBS reports. In the "sleepy and affluent" town of Riverdale in the Bronx, a series of raids netted $30 million worth of the drug, while officers seized a stash worth $6 million in Cliffside Park, N.J. Ten arrests were made in Fort Lee, N.J. during a similar bust, and a heroin mill was also found in the scenic Hudson River town of Cornwall, in Rockland County. Why the peaceful suburbs? “They’re using it as cover—cover from those who would rob them, and cover from those who would arrest them and take down the mills,” says NYC Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan. But while the 'burbs may provide safety for the dealers, their presence makes the neighbors feel less than safe. "If somebody is coming in to rob a mill, they’ll be coming in armed—and armed to the teeth—and they will shoot up anything in their way because there are millions of dollars of heroin there," says Brennan. Heroin use is reportedly on the rise in affluent areas, fueled by the nation's growing epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse. Painkillers contain highly-addictive opiates—the same main ingredient in heroin—and those with opioid addiction often make the switch to heroin, a cheaper and often more accessible alternative.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.