Most heroin originates from opium poppy farms in SW Asia (the "Golden Crescent," primarily Afghanistan and Pakistan), SE Asia (the "Golden Triangle," primarily in Myanmar), and Latin American (primarily Colombia). The opium gum is converted to morphine in labs near the fields and then to heroin in labs within or near the producing country. After importation, drug dealers cut, or dilute, the heroin (1 part heroin to 9 to 99 parts dilutor) with sugars, starch, or powdered milk before selling it to addicts; quinine is also added to imitate the bitter taste of heroin so the addict cannot tell how much heroin is actually present. It is sold in single-dose bags of 0.1 gram (0.03 oz.), each costing between $5 and $46 (1992). One pound of diluted heroin yields approximately 4,500 doses.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.