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In 2014, Attorney General, Eric Holder, declared heroin use “an urgent and growing public health crisis.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal heroin overdoses nationwide jumped almost 55 percent between 1999 and 2010.

Steven Peterson, agent for the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for three decades, and one of the country’s foremost Mexican cartel experts, joined The Costa Report to explain the growing abundance of cheap, black tar heroin in the United States.

According to Peterson, “Mexican traffickers have been smuggling drugs into the U.S. since back in the 1960’s, but it was just Marijuana and heroin wasn’t a big problem. The Mexican drug cartel played the middleman.” Within a short period of time Mexican drug cartels learned that opium could be grown on Mexican soil where they would “have control of the supply.” Today, the primary source for black tar heroin is Mexico. Peterson claims the way to stop black tar heroin is to attack the source. He draws a parallel between a similar drug problem the U.S. faced in the 1980’s with the explosion of cocaine use. South American governments cooperated with U.S. law enforcement who “sent in the DEA and Special Forces, blew up processing facilities and were involved in the task force that killed major cocaine trafficker, Pablo Escobar.” Peterson continued, “Because we were active and aggressive we put fear into the Colombian drug cartels … If we took the same aggressive stance against Mexican traffickers that we did back in the 1980’s against Colombia, it would work.”

Peterson states that one issue which has contributed greatly to the growing supply of black tar heroin is a lack of awareness of how widespread the problem is. Peterson blames a lack of coverage by the mainstream media. “The media conspires with this drug problem because they don’t cover these stories.” He worries that the American people do not realize there are “gun fights on a daily basis” along the U.S. – Mexican border and “cartels are using military tactics, and can afford the best weapons and protection, which our own law enforcement cannot.” Peterson feels that if the mainstream media provided an accurate picture of the violence, there would be public support for utilizing more aggressive methods to track drug lords, including the use of surveillance and accessing information from private records. He concluded, “The American people don’t support these tactics, because they aren’t shown the big picture.”

To hear the full interview with Steven Peterson, visit The Costa Report