Heroin.com: Selling Junk Online

Heroin.com: Selling Junk Online
Illustration by Curt Merlo

In 2008, New York City Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget G. Brennan began leading a team of undercover investigators targeting the drug dealers who used Craigslist to advertise their wares.

She sounded confident.

"It's like shooting fish in a barrel," she told the Daily News. That year, a Citigroup vice president, Mark Rayner, was caught moving ecstasy and cocaine from his Midtown offices using Craigslist. "We see lots of professionals, people with good jobs, doing it," Brennan said.

Three years later, drug dealing on the classified-ads website is still blatant and ubiquitous.

Sellers thinly camouflage their activity by posting ads for "420 T-shirts" or "tickets to the 420 show," using the numerical calling card for marijuana, or referring to "Tina," "T," and "parTy" for crystal meth. "Snow" or "skiing" is a cocaine reference. "Relief" calls up a healthy section of pills: Xanax, Ambien, Ativan, Klonopin, morphine.

Ironically, no search term is more productive at bringing up drug ads than "law enforcement," standard words for a buyer or seller who insists he's not with the NYPD.

Only a man named "Kai," however, appears to sell heroin openly on New York's Craigslist pages. And he's not very subtle at all.

"Want to 'nod out'? Ride the 'H' train," reads one subject line. The body of that advertisement offered "H, d@pe, diesel" for purchase "anywhere in Manhattan public or private." Sometimes he throws in the term "Papaver Somniferum L.," the Latin name of the plant that opium and poppy come from. For good measure, Kai insists in his ads that he's not law enforcement "and you shouldn't be either."

"We continue to conduct investigations into narcotics-related activity on Craigslist," Brennan tells the Voice. "Clearly, Craigslist and social-networking sites provide new opportunities for drug traffickers. It's something we're aware of and continue to investigate." Craigslist itself, however, did not respond to Voice requests for comment.

On a recent evening, Kai—who asked the Voice to use that name as an alias—finishes up a rack of ribs and a slice of cheesecake at a barbecue restaurant in Harlem. It's only 7, but it's been three hours since he last shot up. "I want to use right now," he says, looking nervous. "I'm thinking of how, I'm thinking of how." He takes out a cell phone and double-checks the Craigslist ad he had put up the day before, hoping someone will answer it soon. He sells drugs, he says, to support his own addiction, a fact that gets more obvious every minute since his last fix.

Despite the city's crackdown, Kai says he has gone untouched by law enforcement for the seven years he's been dealing on Craigslist. In his ads, he lays out strict e-mailing rules for his clients: include only a name and cell phone number. If a potential buyer follows the rules to the letter, he sets up a meeting in a public place—but he arrives without drugs. He says he can tell in a few seconds if a potential customer is legit, but makes each buyer lift up their shirt to show him that they're not wearing a wire, and lift up each pant leg to show him that they're not carrying a gun. Small talk builds to questions about drug use and then to specifics like quantity and price. Kai says he doesn't negotiate.

When Kai and his customer have agreed on a price, he makes the customer wait on a corner while he goes to pick up the drugs from a "stash house." The hand-off with the customer occurs back on the street. He says he tries to accommodate unpracticed buyers by hiding the heroin, "like in an empty cigarette pack." Then he circles back to the stash house to buy his own fix.

Kai estimates that he introduces 10 percent of his customers to the drug for the first time, almost all of whom he says are graduating from addictions to other opiates.

He looks dumbfounded when he's asked if anyone he introduces to the drug doesn't like it: "It's heroin!"

Selling drugs on Craigslist is less fraught for "Andrew," an Adderall dealer. First of all, he's not a heroin addict. The 30-year-old Queens resident and former "Tina" user trolls Craigslist with ads that offer "study aids" and "concentration tools," and finds a bigger market than Kai for a drug that people perceive as less illicit.

[Using the same keyword searches that turned up numerous drug ads on Craigslist's New York City pages, we found only a single ad, in several variations, offering illicit drugs on local pages at Backpage.com. The Backpage ad was repeatedly flagged and taken down, and reappeared over several weeks. Backpage.com is owned by the same company that owns The Village Voice.]

While Kai says he's "lucky to make $100 in a day," Andrew claims to sell about $8,000 worth of Adderall every month, but only clears about $2,000 in profit. He says that his clientele is "60 percent female," made up of "mostly students and professionals between the ages of 23 and 45." He suspects that many of his customers use the amphetamine as an appetite suppressant.

"I guess the idea came to me when I was on the site constantly looking for a job," Andrew says with a hint of frustration in his voice. He moved to New York eight months ago and has been unable to secure steady employment despite his college degree.

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43 comments
OneTwenty
OneTwenty

Yeah $200 for Addys is pretty expensive, it would need to be the highest dose of XR (30mg) which totals out to 300mg - that's not worth $200 really. Go to any college campus and find some kid who doesn't know they're even worth money - you'll get his whole month's script for the price of Coors Light. But I can see the types of people that dude deals to paying that much.

As for Kai and Mike, their prices look on the money. Although where I'm from, you can get really good dope in any increment of $10. A gram is $100 - $150. Never had East Coast Stamps cause we rock tar here.

Either way, thank god I cleaned up. It's coming up on a year in January. Still have my Adderall script for my ADD though. Haha!

Adderall Abuse
Adderall Abuse

On a recent evening, Kai—who asked the Voice to use that name as an alias—finishes up a rack of ribs and a slice of cheesecake at a barbecue restaurant in Harlem. It's only 7, but it's been three hours since.

Ojfff
Ojfff

who the fuck pays $200 for 10 adderall? Maybe 40 dollars for all of them at the MOST. Get your facts right.

Yo
Yo

Great story. Well written. I JUMPED from word to word and page to page!

alexis
alexis

gee. interesting news this article.

Ryan
Ryan

It's crazy how even though the dealers go through all those precautions they are still getting away with it after all these years. You'd think the police would have it figured out by now.

This isn't totally relevant but if you are selling anything on Craigslist (not drugs) then check out the site

Guest
Guest

This is really interesting. I enjoyed this.

Fdro
Fdro

The Citigroup VP, Marc Rayner is also the current Executive Board Member/Treasurer for NYC Heritage of Pride - interesting details in need - organization directly and indirectly received public funds, and he is still on probation for the incident.

Amphetamine Addiction
Amphetamine Addiction

Amphetamine addiction is easy to fall into, though as one of the main effects is to keep users awake, they certainly cannot be said to sleepwalk into it.Thanks for sharing this post.

Aqua Regia
Aqua Regia

I would have thought that an article of this content and caliber would have been published by the NY Post or the Washington Times.

Doctor Ron
Doctor Ron

This story is, not surprisingly, a LOT of hype.

As part of a project, I have been tracking drug "transactions" on CL in five major cities. The only city that has a statistically significant "history" of posting drugs for sale online is New York (approx. 1 in 350,000 posts)--and most of these are for Adderall, a SII amphetamine. And yes, I also know the "codewords" and such. This "issue" is simply not an issue. Of course it EXISTS...but hardly. Also, most posts (both "wanted" and "selling") having to do with drugs are flagged and taken down--either by "competitors" or other site users.

This is an anomaly, not a trend. Guess it must be a slow news day...

DocRon

Mohan Arun
Mohan Arun

Does anyone still think consuming and/or selling drugs is a punishable offence? How can people be allowed to make 'moral judgments' as to what others can and cannot buy? Anyone agree?

Guest
Guest

I used to selll coke, weed and X on craigslist and got busted in 2006. these guys are under investigation for sure.... the cops are just waiting for sales to accumulate before they get him.

good read though.

Michelle Din
Michelle Din

sounds amazing that this could go on . . .

Bev212
Bev212

just goes to SHOW you: Every Drug Dealer is their OWN best Customer & not one person who sells drugs ever NOT uses them !

Bill Lewis
Bill Lewis

The only way to get rid of the drug problem is to legalize it.

JRM
JRM

Wait, you mean I can still get illegal drugs and services on Craigslist? What a scoop.

RAPProds
RAPProds

Hit 'em with the max and then throw the key away. Some junkies can walk away but for the vast majority it's a life sentence. It's mystery why some can kick it but most never can. They subsist on methadone or suboxone at best. It's called maintenance. And it mostly maintains a vast and hugely expensive dopehead complex of rehab facilities, medical personnel, shrinks, bureaucrats, government agencies that extend far beyond what the eye can see. Before Mao forty percent of the males in China were hooked on Opium. Mao stopped it. How? Junkies were executed. Thousands. Stopped it.

aron pieman kay
aron pieman kay

the fucking government pumps heroin into our communities as a form of pacification

bigriggs
bigriggs

Only a fucking parasite would use drugs like heroin....

Marie Sipp
Marie Sipp

I mean the 2 journalists, not the 2 hustlers, right?

Marie Sipp
Marie Sipp

Such a great job, guys! Really impressive.

Aqua Regia
Aqua Regia

Nobody wants an addict next door. But the social and medical sequels of addiction to opiates are dependent on the set and setting of usage. Prior to the passage of the 1914 Harrison Act approximately there were about two million opiate addicts in the US. Many were professionals who functioned well within their vocations.

A great of the difficulties associated with opiate addiction is the result of the legal and social strictures applied. At market rates opiates are too cheap to bother committing crimes to obtain. It is the black market costs which propel opiate addicts to criminal acts.

Alcohol abuse is far more damaging on a physiologic and psychological bases than opiates, yet we know that Prohibition was a cure far worse than the disease. This is true of the prohibition of other drugs as well.

Mohamead the messy grrrr
Mohamead the messy grrrr

when some heroin addict chops you up into little peices and feeds the homeless with you, i'll make sure to write on your apt door...IS IT SOUP YET?

bigriggs
bigriggs

Yes, I want to live next to a coke head. In fact, I'll take my kids down to the corner dealer and get them started on meth. Of course people care. No sane person, especially one with kids wants these drugs legalized.

bigriggs
bigriggs

You sound like a nice person....

Bev21
Bev21

So what specifically happened with your case ?how much jailtime did you do?were you using at the time

jjmmrr
jjmmrr

One instance is not proof of point.

Yur mama blows me
Yur mama blows me

yeah---than your skank of a mom can legally buy heroin instead of having sex with ten different guys every day to feed her habit.

bigriggs
bigriggs

Great idea. I'll take my kids on down to the corner meth house and make sure they get set up....

diegueno
diegueno

{sarcasm}Really? You think so?{/sarcasm}

Nos_03
Nos_03

Um, what? Did you visit one of said dealers before you typed out this nonsensical retort? Haha

Deedeeking
Deedeeking

Youre a fucking idiot, big fella. grow up.

bigriggs
bigriggs

Yes I do. A complete drain on this country.

U2dumb
U2dumb

daniel rakowitz---look up that name of that nyc killer for explanation.

bigriggs
bigriggs

Nice comeback. Go smoke some crack.

diegueno
diegueno

Heroin is worse for America than tax cuts for the super rich.

 
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