The city's narcotics prosecutor says the number of heroin busts has doubled since last year and is being fueled by the drug's demand among teens and young adults. NY1's Lily Jamali filed the following report.
Just last year, a heroin mill operating right across the street from a junior high school on Manhattan's Upper East Side was busted.
Members of the law enforcement community say the city's youth are the latest victims of a growing heroin epidemic.
"We're seeing a lot more young people involved in heroin use and developing an addiction to heroin and that's something that's extremely troublesome," said Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
Brennan says people in their teens and 20s seem to be turning to heroin in large numbers. For years, studies showed the typical user was older.
"It's now been a complete generation since there was a heroin epidemic in New York City in the 70s. I think people have lost sight of the fact that heroin is an absolutely devastating drug," said Brennan.
Counselors at Flushing Hospital say in the past five years, the number of teens coming in for heroin treatment has quadrupled. Many are middle or upper class kids who seem to share a pattern.
"The typical history we get is 'How did you get addicted?' 'Oh, you know, I started trying Vicodin.' 'Where'd you get it?' 'My grandmother's medicine cabinet' or 'Some kid had it at a party'," said Dr. Joseph Cannavo of Flushing Hospital's Chemical Dependency Unit.
Federal officials say one in five narcotic addicts started on prescription drugs. As they develop an addiction, Cannavo says they often switch to heroin.
"What you always hear from the patient is someday, someone said to me, look, you're spending all this money on pills. 'Why don't you just try heroin? It's cheaper and it's more potent. You don't have to shoot it. All you have to do is sniff it'," said Cannavo.
Before long, Cannavo says the switch to needles is almost automatic.
"They make the next move to something they thought they'd never do which is shooting it intravenously.
John Gilbride of the Drug Enforcement Administration says today's heroin is much purer than what was available in in the 70s. And his agency's busts aren't concentrated in one place.
"We're hitting mills in Queens, in the Bronx, as far away as Staten Island. It's not in one area or one group," said Gilbride.
Officials say many parents don't know what's happening until their kids are deep into an addiction to the deadly drug.