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Police in Charlotte, NC report a rise in the use of “black tar” heroin, a highly addictive drug that appears to be especially popular among young users in affluent neighborhoods.

“It’s as serious as the beginning of the crack cocaine epidemic,” University of North Carolina at Charlotte Criminal Justice Professor, Paul Friday, told the Charlotte City Council this week.  “And the reason it is serious is because it can expand so quickly.”

The Charlotte Observer reports that Maj. Glen Neimeyer of the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police told the City Council that suppliers of the drug are Mexican-based cartels.

Black tar heroin is made from poppies that are typically grown in western Mexico, according to the article. The drug’s name comes from its color and texture. Its popularity is due to its low price and efficient supply networks, the newspaper reports.

Robert Martin, Director of Substance Abuse Services at Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy, said that while 10 years ago it was rare to see a patient addicted to black tar heroin, now 40 percent of their patients are being treated for abuse of black tar heroin and related prescription drug abuse.

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