Heroin: The poisoning of America


The United States is battling the biggest heroin epidemic in decades. CNN’s Deborah Feyerick traveled the country to find the people and the towns fighting the war against the drug that has taken on a new, powerful form and is indiscriminately claiming the lives of thousands.


From the air, to the sea and even underground, law enforcement is on a never-ending mission to stop drugs from crossing our borders. At the forefront of that struggle is the nation’s busiest border crossing: The San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego, California.

“It’s a business — they’re going to do everything they can to make money, and we’re going to do everything we can to stop them.”

Gil Kerlikowske, US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner


About 30,000 people live in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, Missouri. Heroin deaths in this county are nearly four times the national average.

“What the dealers kind of look for are people who are more affluent and from better-off neighborhoods.”

Kolton Kaleta, 17


Cuyahoga County, Ohio is on track to see its highest number of heroin- and fentanyl-related deaths in its history. Dr. Joan Papp is on the front lines — not only treating overdoses, but also trying to prevent them.

“You may know several people who are addicted to heroin and you just have no idea.”

Dr. Joan Papp, Emergency Room Physician


When drugs are seized on the streets of New Hampshire, they’re taken to this lab in Concord for testing as evidence for prosecutors. The lab is working through a backlog of about 3,400 cases.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in heroin cases … probably 50% of the cases I get on a daily basis have either heroin or fentanyl.”

Jennifer Paris, Criminalist

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