The network was comprised of imprisoned gang members from different California prisons. However, the final decisions were made by the leaders of the Mexican Mafia and MS13 incarcerated in Pelican Bay, a maximum-security facility in California.
Over the last ten years, US anti-narcotics agencies have witnessed a heroin epidemic that tripled the number of heroin addicts and caused more than 40,000 overdose deaths. The epidemic is the result of many factors, but there is one simple yet determining reason: the change in color of the heroin.
Traditionally, the heroin produced in Mexico has been of a dark brown color, which is how it got the nickname “Mexican tar.” It was consumed primarily in cities on the US West Coast. Users on the East Coast preferred “china white,” a white powder variety of heroin made popular by Chinese traffickers at the beginning of the 20th century.
Obeying the basics rules of supply and demand, Mexico’s cartels have changed their opium processing methods, inserting themselves into a growing market, “which has allowed the heroin threat to expand to unprecedented levels,” according to the 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary (pdf) from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).