border to border

border to border
11:01 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Drug Cartels Thrive on Ultimate Consumers: Addicts

Recovering addict Kevin Lehl says he found it easier to find heroin in Portland, Ore. than coffee shops.
Chris Lehman

Editor's Note: Drug traffickers are doing big business up and down the West Coast. When you go by freeway, you’re driving a Silk Road of sorts for heroin, meth, and cocaine. This export industry is evolving. Drug experts say heroin is back on the rise, fueled in part by prescription drug abuse.

This week, in a series we call Border to Border Drugs, we’re reporting on drug-trafficking rings that rely on every freeway in the West. In part two of the series, correspondent Chris Lehman reports on how the supply side of this business may change, but the demand remains strong.

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Heavy-duty prescription painkillers have something in common with heroin. They're both opiates, and the effect they have on people who get hooked is similar. One difference? Heroin is usually cheaper and easier to get. That was true for Portlander Kevin Lehl. He says he got hooked as a teen when he was prescribed opiates to treat chronic pain.

"I was in love with it from the very beginning,” Lehl said.

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border to border
11:07 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Drugs, Guns, and Money: Anatomy of a West Coast Trafficking Ring

A trial exhibit that shows the geographic scope of the Berrelleza-Verduzco trafficking ring.
Court Exhibit: U.S. v. Anchondo

Editor’s Note: Mexican drug cartels operate an illicit export business that depends on freeways that run from California and Arizona to Canada. If you drive these freeways, chances are you’ve passed a car or truck secretly holding a cargo of heroin, meth, or cocaine.

This week we’ll take you inside the world of drug-trafficking, an illegal business that touches every city, every small town in every state in the west. In the first part of our series Border to Border Drugs, correspondent Austin Jenkins introduces us to a smuggling ring that operated from Arizona to Washington state.

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On Jan. 21, 2012 at 8:37 in the evening, federal agents intercepted a phone call. It was between a man named Victor Berrelleza-Verduzco and one of his associates, Jose.

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