Heroin Addicts & Democrats Are Flocking To Philadelphia For Vastly Different Reasons

By Seth Ferranti 07/26/16

Philly is the official home of the 2016 Democratic National Convention and the newest "mecca" for heroin in the US.

Heroin Addicts & Democrats Are Flocking To Philadelphia For Vastly Different Reasons

As the Democratic National Convention descends on Philadelphia this week, they’ve found that they aren’t the only out-of-towners visiting the city. To locals and law enforcement it's no secret, but the rest of the country might find it surprising to know that Philadelphia is currently the hot spot for heroin addicts. A central distribution hub for the Sinaloa Cartel has driven the purity levels of street heroin through the roof in the city. DEA agents report seizing packaged retail quantities of the drug that are 92% pure, the highest potency it has been in years. Just in time for the arrival of the 2016 Democratic Party.

Addicts are coming from far and wide to visit the city, and oftentimes it's not just for a vacation. Many of the addicts stay in the city, drawn by the heroin and the potency levels of the drug. One addict, who arrived six years ago from Ocean City, Maryland, calls Philadelphia the heroin “mecca.” The Los Angeles Times reported that he now sleeps on a dirty mattress in a dark tunnel under a roadway, feeding his habit with the high-grade Mexican heroin that has been flooding our country in what government officials are calling a “heroin epidemic.”

“The purity is the best on the East Coast, and it’s easily accessible,” Patrick Trainor, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Philadelphia, told the LA Times. “It definitely draws people.” The city of Brotherly Love is now listed by the DEA as the second largest dope depot in the nation. By boosting the quality of the purity levels in heroin by 10 times and cutting the cost by 60%, the cartel has taken over the market—creating a world where suburban kids rip each other off, swap sex for drugs, and drop dead from overdoses. With brand names like Homicide, Drop Zone and Turbo, kids are being lured to the city and once they get there, they never leave, a local told the LA Times

Philly dealers have also been cutting the drug with W-18, a chemical that is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. In areas of North Philly like The Badlands, a predominantly Puerto Rican part of the city, heroin is for sale 24/7, a magnet for addicts and law enforcement alike, prompting petty crime, junkies homeless in the streets, arrests, and overdoses. Some would think the Democratic Party coming to town would inspire public officials to clean up the area, but sales and use goes on unmolested.

“They ain’t gonna do nothing for us,” Danny Hinkie, a 44-year-old local heroin user told the LA Times about the Democrats in town. His neighborhood in North Philly is littered with dirty syringes, empty heroin packets and a mass of humanity lost in a dope-induced haze. Lost souls afloat on the heroin express, trying to find the money to get that next fix. Hinkie concludes, “It’s like this because people come from other places. It used to be a good neighborhood.” 

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at sethferranti.com. You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.