Where Does Black Tar Heroin Come From?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on July 6, 2021

Black tar heroin is a product of the opium poppy plant grown by small, rural farmers scattered throughout Mexico.

Where Does Black Tar Heroin Come From?

While most of the world’s heroin supply is in powder form, the solid form of the drug called “black tar” is mainly produced in Mexico.

This form of the drug is commonly sold in the United States, especially on the west coast.

Black tar heroin is a product of the opium poppy plant grown by small, rural farmers scattered throughout Mexico.

The opium poppy plant is often grown alongside other cash crops and may be harvested up to two-three times per year.

After harvesting and “cooking” extracted opium sap to prepare for use, the drug is then smuggled into the United States and sold on the streets.

Learn more about black tar heroin

Largest Producers Of Black Tar Heroin

Other South American countries, with the main concentration in Colombia, are the second-largest producers of heroin sold in the United States.

Heroin produced in Southwest Asia generally supplies Africa, Asia, and European countries.

Mexico and Columbia, in part, dominate the United States drug market because of their:

  • close proximity
  • specialized and established transportation routes
  • distribution infrastructure
  • ability to meet drug demands of individuals addicted to the substance in the U.S.

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Mexican Drug Trade Organizations

Detecting the highly organized Mexican traffickers who smuggle black tar into the United States to distribute has proven challenging.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports heroin moves over the border in two ways:

  • by use of human couriers who conceal amounts of the drug in their body
  • larger quantities moved in specially modified vehicles that avoid detection from authorities

While the majority of black tar heroin was recovered in areas west of the Mississippi River, Mexican criminal groups have since expanded distribution into eastern states.

Eastern states had been previously supplied mainly by Colombian drug organizations.

Currently, Mexican black tar heroin may be available throughout this region, including states such as North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and New York.

Getting Help For Black Tar Heroin Addiction

All forms of heroin, including prescription opioids, can lead to tolerance, chronic addiction, and overdose.

Heroin addiction treatment often involves qualified medical advice and may include buprenorphine, naloxone, or methadone medications to support opiate withdrawal.

If you or a loved one has a heroin addiction, or if you have questions about rehab programs, contact an addiction specialist today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on July 6, 2021
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