In a snowstorm in Rutland, Vermont, a young dad is torn between his kids and his struggle to score smack. He’s just one addict in an idyllic town in the foothills of the Green Mountains that has been transformed by heroin — the drug behind America's latest, most urgent epidemic. Spurred in part by prescription-drug addicts looking for a cheaper high, the classic narcotic is making a comeback: Authorities say heroin seizures in the U.S. have nearly doubled in the past five years. But most of the drugs are never intercepted.
For nearly two years, Fusion followed Justin Bemis’s harrowing journey from addiction to recovery in his New England hometown. Along the way, we traced American heroin from users in suburbia to the guerilla-controlled mountains of Colombia -- meeting the poppy farmers and professional “cooks” who feed domestic appetites, as well as the anti-drug cops trying to catch up to them. Follow that route below and watch The Heroin Trail, Fusion’s hourlong investigative documentary, above.
Click through to see the path heroin takes from Colombia to the United States.
The frontline of Colombia’s five-decade civil war with the guerrilla group FARC, this region grew more poppy than anywhere else in the country last year. Misael and Jorge are two local leaders who took us to the poppy fields. Poppies are easier to farm than coffee or berries, and they fund most local families’ food, books and medicine. “We don’t make much, but with this we can survive,” Misael says.