The Business of Illicit Drugs

May 20, 1988

Report Outline
Special Focus

Introduction

Understanding today's drug scene—with its shootings, wasted lives and ravaged neighborhoods—requires more than empathy for its victims. Doing something about it requires more than proper police procedures. That is because the drug scene, at its root, is a business story. The law of supply and demand may be distorted by the illegal nature of the product, but in many ways the drug business operates like any other business.

Go to top

Overview

The supermarket would not have met public health standards for commercial establishments. Roaches crawled the refrigerator shelves, and the stench of urine filled the air. But the store was well-stocked for its purposes. The cabinets contained both new and used 10-mm B&D syringes, empty packets of heroin and cocaine, and Ziploc bags used for packaging marijuana. A small glass pipe used for smoking crack—an increasingly popular and highly addictive form of cocaine—stood in the window-sill.

On the floor, a bare mattress bore evidence that the apartment, a third-floor walk-up in a Washington, D.C., public housing project, was more than a supermarket. It also served as a place to use the goods that were bought there—a “shooting gallery,” where anxious heroin consumers could inject their purchases on the spot. Scattered around the rooms were charred bottle caps, used to heat heroin mixed with water, cigarette filters, used to strain impurities from heroin solution as it is drawn into the syringe, and bits of bloody gauze.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Drug Abuse and Trafficking
Jun. 29, 2017  Drug Abuse
Oct. 07, 2016  Opioid Crisis
Jul. 19, 2016  Drug Abuse
May 02, 2014  Treating Addiction
Jun. 03, 2011  Teen Drug Use
Jun. 12, 2009  Legalizing Marijuana Updated
Dec. 12, 2008  Mexico's Drug War
Feb. 09, 2007  Combating Addiction
Jun. 02, 2006  War on Drugs
Jul. 15, 2005  Methamphetamine
Jul. 28, 2000  Drug-Policy Debate
Nov. 20, 1998  Drug Testing
Jan. 06, 1995  Treating Addiction
Mar. 19, 1993  War on Drugs
Feb. 23, 1990  Does the War on Drugs Need a New Strategy?
May 20, 1988  The Business of Illicit Drugs
Jan. 23, 1987  Experimental Drugs
Feb. 08, 1985  The Fight Against Drug Smuggling
Aug. 27, 1982  Cocaine: Drug of the Eighties
Jun. 11, 1982  Prescription-Drug Abuse
Jan. 23, 1976  Changing U.S. Drug Policy
Dec. 13, 1972  World Drug Traffic
May 27, 1970  Heroin Addiction
Jan. 27, 1965  Psychotoxic Drugs
Jul. 18, 1962  Narcotics Addiction: Punishment or Treatment
Sep. 05, 1956  Control of Drug Addiction
Mar. 28, 1951  Drug Addiction
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Drug Abuse
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean
Substance Abuse