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January 05 , 2008


The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic


Over the past fifteen years, enterprising sugar cane farmers in the small county of Xalisco on the west coast of Mexico have created a unique distribution system that has brought black tar heroin – the cheapest, most addictive form of the opiate, two to three times purer than its white powder cousin – to the veins of people across the United States. Communities where heroin had never been seen before have become overrun with it. Local police and residents are stunned: How could heroin, long considered a drug found only in the dense, urban environments along the East Coast, and trafficked into the United States by enormous Colombian drug cartels, be so incredibly ubiquitous in the American heartland? Who was bringing it here and why were so many townspeople suddenly eager for the comparatively cheap high it offered?

Acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of American capitalism in Dreamland – young men in Mexico, independent of the drug cartels, in search of their own American Dream via the fast and enormous profits of trafficking cheap black tar heroin to America's rural and suburban addicts; and Purdue Pharma, determined to corner the market on pain with its new and expensive miracle drug, Oxycontin, extremely addictive in its own right. Quinones illuminates just how these two stories fit together as cause and effect. Dreamland is a dramatic and revelatory account of addiction spreading to every part of the American landscape.
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