More than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, and a growing number of those deaths are attributed to the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. Journalist Ben Westhoff says the drug, while an important painkiller and anesthesia medicine in hospitals, is now killing more Americans annually as a street drug than any other in U.S. history.
Journalist Matthew Brzezinski wrote about the global narcotics industry in the June 23, 2002 issue of the The New York Times Magazine. His cover story is, "Heroin: The Sleek New Business Model for the Ultimate Global Product."
Organized crime groups in China, called triads, have become some of the biggest forces in the international heroin trade. Writer Gerald Posner links their rise to the power vacuum left by the Sicilian mafia, as well as the policing policies of Chinatowns throughout the U.S. Posner's book about the subject is called Warlords of Crime.