In 2013, 424 people died from heroin overdoses in the city, while 335 people were murdered, according to city Department of Health statistics reviewed by the New York Daily News.
Specific numbers for 2014 are not yet available, but NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said heroin killed more people in 2014 than in 2013. Fatal heroin overdoses in 2014 also exceeded the 328 murders catalogued last year.
“Heroin is making a big-time comeback,” Bratton told the Daily News.
Last year, three law enforcement agencies – the NYPD narcotics division, the city’s office of the special narcotics prosecutor and the Drug Enforcement Agency’s New York field division – seized 2,186 pounds of heroin – or about 30 million heroin doses with a street value of approximately $300 million.
In the first quarter of 2015, the DEA alone has already seized nearly 220 pounds of smack off the streets – equaling the amount that agency seized in all of 2014. The office of the special narcotics prosecutor has seized an additional 120 pounds of heroin this year.
“We’ve never seen these numbers, not even in the heroin epidemics from 30 to 40 years ago,” said James Hunt, special agent in charge of the DEA’s New York Field Division.
Many of today’s addicts first got hooked on prescription painkillers, then moved on to heroin because it is cheaper and more potent, according to Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan, who launched a new heroin interdiction team last year.
Moreover, addiction to the drug crosses all ages and socioeconomic lines.
The neighborhoods with the highest fatal overdose rates are Fordham, Tremont and Mott Haven in the Bronx, and Tottenville and Willowbrook in Staten Island.
Opioid addiction is now so prevalent in Staten Island that the NYPD requires all borough officers to carry a dose of Naloxone, a nasal spray that helps revive victims suffering from a heroin or prescription drug overdose.
By May 2014, more than half of the cops in the city were carrying the lifesaving drug, which has been credited with saving 11 people in the first three months of 2015, the Daily News reported.
Nationwide, the total number of fatal heroin overdoses increased fivefold from 2001 to 2013, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.