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NYC Has Become East Coast Hub for Heroin Trade & Branded Forms of Heroin, Like “China White,” Are Being Found in NY-Metro Area; Heroin Laced With Potent Fentanyl is Already on NY Streets & Now Is Not the Time To Cut Back Federal Funding to Combat Heroin Trafficking & Abuse


 Schumer Opposes President Obama’s Plan to Cut Funding for the Fed. High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program & Calls on Senate to Instead Boost HIDTA by $100M – HIDTA Provides Unique Intelligence, Surveillance, Coordination With NYPD, Feds, Locals That Allows Dismantling of Drug Rings


Schumer: We All Saw the Horrors Caused By the Crack Epidemic When Left Unchecked by Feds & Other Law Enforcement – Can’t Let NYC Become Hotbed for Heroin & Even More Dangerous Forms Like “China White”

 In response to the growing use of heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin branded as “China White,” U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Senate to reject President Obama’s proposed cuts to a critical drug trafficking program, and instead called for a $100 million increase in such funding. Schumer said that while heroin on its own has wreaked havoc on New York City, there is an even more potent and deadly form of heroin, often marketed as “China White,” that is laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl. “China White” and other fentanyl-laced heroin are now being marketed and sold in areas across the country, including Connecticut and New York. According to the New York City Department of Health, heroin overdose deaths doubled each year from 2010 to 2013, the most recent data set. Despite these trends, Schumer today said that President Obama surprisingly proposed cuts to the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, which provides key resources to better assess unique drug trafficking patterns forming in the region as well as information sharing between the feds, NYPD, local law enforcement, state and local public health officials. The President’s budget proposal would cut HIDTA funding from $245 million to $193 million, which Schumer made clear today that he strongly opposes. Schumer instead urged the Senate to reject the President’s budget request and increase HIDTA’s funding by $100 million in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

“President Obama’s budget outlines a lot of critical priorities for this nation, but I simply do not agree with his plan to cut critical drug trafficking funding, as heroin use continues to rise and kill our youth. What’s more, with the emergence of highly deadly, fentanyl-laced heroin, now is clearly not the time to cut back on federal funding for HIDTA, one of the best programs available for monitoring drug trafficking rings and facilitating information sharing and coordination amongst all levels of law enforcement,” said Senator Schumer. “We all saw the horrors caused by the crack epidemic when left unchecked by the feds and other law enforcement and that’s why I will move to increase HIDTA funding by $100 million in the Senate, not make cuts to this vital program.” 

“China White” heroin contains fentanyl, which is colorless and odorless, and creates a “super high” for users. Fentanyl is a schedule-II drug and a powerful opiate; it is fifty to 100 times more powerful than heroin according to media reports, and can be more potent than morphine. It is often used by doctors to treat patients with severe pain, and commonly prescribed to people with chronic pain in extreme circumstances, such as end-state cancer patients. Mixing fentanyl with heroin increases its potency and exacerbates the dangers of the already-dangerous drug, including trouble breathing and overdose deaths. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has recently posted a warning about “killer heroin,” a 50-50 mix of heroin and fentanyl. The DEA urged first responders to exercise extreme caution because fatal amounts of fentanyl can be directly absorbed through the skin just by touching it. The DEA has said that dealers are also marketing fentanyl-laced drugs as “Bud Light,” “Theraflu,” and “Income Tax.” Specifically in New York, a young man in Erie County overdosed after injecting what he thought was heroin, but rather it was heroin laced with fentanyl.

According to media reports in Connecticut this month, there has been a sharp uptick in overdoses related to heroin laced with fentanyl. A drug treatment doctor in Connecticut has noted a pattern sweeping local communities related to “China White”, and noted that it is far more potent than heroin alone. According to a January 2015 report out of New Jersey, funding cuts and poor information exchange are making it difficult to detect heroin laced with fentanyl until it is too late. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in January 2014 that fentanyl-laced heroin was responsible for killing as many as 17 people in the area over the course of 7 days.

While the exact number of overdose deaths related to fentanyl-laced heroin is difficult to trace, given that the opioid is odorless and colorless and often goes undetected until toxicity screens are done on the body, the use of heroin and heroin overdose deaths has increased significantly in recent years. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, from 2010-2013, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids increased three years consecutively, from 8.2 per 100,000 in 2010 to 11.6 per 100,000 New Yorkers in 2013, a 41 percent increase over the 3 years total. The rate of overdose deaths involving heroin more than doubled for three consecutive years from 3.1 per 100,000 New Yorkers (209 deaths) in 2010 to 6.2 per 100,000 New Yorkers (420 deaths) in 2013.

Schumer said that Congress should be increasing, not decreasing funding to strengthen the unique intelligence, surveillance and coordination that HIDTA provides. This critical program is vital in the effort to track and dismantle drug rings, particularly those drug rings that are lacing their already-dangerous product with a deadly opioid. Schumer said that the recent uptick in heroin-related deaths and usage makes it clear that we should do be providing our experts with the resources necessary to fight thing trend. Schumer today opposed President Obama’s plan to cut funding from HIDTA and said that the Senate should increase funds by $100 million.

Under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and the ONDCP Reauthorization Act of 2006, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is authorized to declare areas that exhibit serious drug trafficking problems as HIDTAs if local law enforcement groups petition for the designation. The counties in-and-around-New York City, as well as many in the Hudson Valley and Upstate New York, are already HIDTA-designated counties, meaning that they receive federal resources to combat drug trafficking and sales. There are currently 28 HIDTAs nationwide, which include approximately 16 percent of all counties in the United States and 60 percent of the U.S. population. HIDTA-designated counties are located in 46 states. The purpose of HIDTA is to reduce drug trafficking and production in the United States. The program’s goal is to facilitate cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; to share information and implement coordinated enforcement activities; to enhance intelligence sharing among law enforcement agencies as well as public health officials; to provide reliable law enforcement intelligence to law enforcement agencies to facilitate the design of effective enforcement strategies; and to support coordinated law enforcement strategies that make the most of available resources to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in the U.S.

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to Chairman Boozman and Ranking Member Coons, of the Financial Services and General Government Subcomittee of the Committee of Appropriations, is available upon request.