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National Drug Intelligence Center
Illinois Drug Threat Assessment Update
Heroin poses a significant threat to the state, particularly in the Chicago area. Substance abuse indicators reveal that heroin abuse is a significant problem. The number of treatment admissions for heroin abuse increased steadily from FY1999 through FY2001. According to the Illinois Department of Human Services, Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, there were 17,811 treatment admissions for heroin abuse in FY1999, 19,854 in FY2000, and 24,463 in FY2001. (See Table 1 in Cocaine section.) According to DAWN data, heroin-related ED mentions also are increasing, specifically in the Chicago area. The number of heroin-related ED mentions in Chicago rose from 9,629 in 1999 to 12,454 in 2000. In that year Chicago had the third highest number of heroin mentions per 100,000 population (206) of the 21 metropolitan areas reporting to DAWN. Additionally, in 2000 heroin was a factor in more deaths in the Chicago area than any other illicit drug. According to DAWN mortality data, there were 499 heroin-related deaths in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties in 2000.
Heroin from all major source areas (South America, Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, and Mexico) is available in Illinois, primarily in the Chicago metropolitan area. South American and Southeast Asian heroin are the most prevalent types. Southwest Asian and Mexican brown powdered and black tar heroin also are available. Federal and state law enforcement reporting indicates that the availability of South American heroin is increasing dramatically and may be surpassing Southeast Asian as the more readily available type of heroin in the state.
According to DEA, the average purity of South American heroin in 2001 (22.1%) was higher than any other heroin type available in Chicago. Heroin in Chicago sold for $100,000 to $125,000 per kilogram, $2,500 to $3,000 per ounce, and $100 to $125 per gram in the first quarter of FY2002.
Colombian DTOs and criminal groups transport South American heroin to Chicago usually by couriers aboard commercial aircraft. However, members of Mexican criminal groups independently operating on behalf of Colombian criminal groups also transport South American heroin from Mexico through southwestern states to Chicago by commercial and private vehicles. Nigerian criminal groups transport Southeast and Southwest Asian heroin to Chicago by couriers aboard commercial aircraft, buses, and trains, and via package delivery services.
Heroin also is transported from Illinois to other states for distribution. Chicago serves as a transportation hub and distribution center for heroin destined for drug markets in Illinois and other states including Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Colombian DTOs and criminal groups are the primary wholesale distributors of South American heroin in Illinois. Nigerian criminal groups are the primary wholesale distributors of Southeast and Southwest Asian heroin in the state. Chicago-based street gangs largely control retail distribution of South American, Southeast Asian, and Southwest Asian heroin. Mexican DTOs and criminal groups control all levels of distribution of Mexican brown powdered and black tar heroin in Illinois.
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