The city's special narcotics prosecutor outlined the growing heroin problem in the five boroughs at a city council hearing Tuesday. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
The city's special narcotics prosecutor says, back in the so-called "bad old days" of the 1970s, heroin was about 10 percent pure.
Now, it's 40 to 60 percent pure, which makes it more addictive than ever before.
"The low level dealers are given heroin to give away for free to begin that whole process of developing life long clients. Which means a terrible group of life long addicts," says Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
Plus, more of the drug is flowing to the city.
So far this year, the special narcotics prosecutor's office seized 288 pounds of heroin in the five boroughs, with a street value of up to $65 million.
In all of last year, only about 175 pounds were seized by the office.
Law enforcement officials say much of it comes from South and Central America.
"It appears that the Mexican organizations are the ones who are responsible for transporting the Colombian heroin," Brennan says.
The special narcotics prosecutor says a lot of it ends up in heroin mills in The Bronx and Upper Manhattan, where the highways make it convenient to transport out of the city and state.
Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson says his office is dealing with more heroin busts even during gang cases.
Police made dozens of arrests in a raid last month.
"The investigation involved mostly crack cocaine but we saw a great deal of heroin, and the heroin was going upstate to Binghamton," Johnson says.
The police department says it's tackling the problem with a number of resources to try to keep it from becoming as deadly and violent as the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s.
"We are going to make a decision whether those resources need to be uniformed resources—to deter it—or undercover resources," says NYPD Chief Philip Banks.
Police say part of the plan has to be drug rehabilitation for those who are addicted to try to decrease the demand as well as the supply.