- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2002

Osama bin Laden-brand heroin has arrived in America. At least it has arrived in New York.
Police officers cruising the boulevards of Queens on Tuesday night made a discovery that gave them some pause, right there on the corner of 205th Street and Hollis Avenue.
Four young women were careening down the dark road in a speeding car running amok in a westbound lane, weaving their way into an illegal U-turn. The officers gave chase and pulled the car over to find that the quartet, ages 17 to 24, possessed an assortment of drugs.
The oldest of them, however, had a noteworthy cache: nine glazed paper envelopes full of heroin.
Stamped in brilliant red letters across each envelope were the words "BIN LADEN." That was not all. The envelopes were adorned on the other side with a drawing of a jet bound for the World Trade Center towers, also in bright red.
Needless to say, the women were arrested on the spot for drug possession, including 21 plastic bags of cocaine, a zip-lock bag full of marijuana and three more envelopes of heroin, these marked "Peaches and Cream."
The "Peaches" designation did not offend higher-ups. But the "brand name 'bin Laden'" made a distinct impression, according to the Queens district attorney's office.
"The drug trade is the sub-basement of our society, where anything goes and degradation rules," said Queens DA Richard A. Brown after reviewing the case.
"So I guess it was inevitable that drug dealers would seek to capitalize on our nation's worst atrocity the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center by marketing their poison in this manner."
But could this be the same super "bin Laden" heroin that scattered intelligence reports in recent months said was on its way to America as a form of terrorist weapon?
In an interview with the New York Times in October, Drug Enforcement Administrator Asa Hutchinson confirmed that his agency had received "limited information" that bin Laden and his network had recruited chemists to develop deadly strength heroin for export to the United States and Europe as retaliation for American missile attacks on al Qaeda training camps in 1998.
"The capacity to market things like heroin is infinite," said a spokeswoman from DEA's Washington office.
But so far, she said, there is no connecting the dots between last week's "bin Laden" find and the arrival of super heroin.
"That just won't wash," she said.
"It's deplorable," said DEA special agent Liz Jordan of the New York field office. "But the bottom line is that this is their marketing. This is what they do. It's just like ecstasy tablets. On Valentine's Day, they imprint them with hearts. On St. Patrick's, they get shamrocks."
Drugs and catchy names or icons are a match made in heaven or hell, depending on one's perspective.
"Drugs, envelopes they typically get stamped with a logo," Ms. Jordan said. "It depends on who's cutting the stuff, who's running the mill. This is a street-level thing. Users identify the source by the name. They'll ask for 'Peaches,' for example, and know what they are getting."
Such tactics are not new. LSD and other illegal drugs have been embellished with Disney characters, butterflies, luxury car logos and more for years.
The four young women from Queens are still in jail and could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Americans, in the meantime, are beginning to equate drug money wtih terrorism after the Office of National Drug Control Policy sponsored multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ads that advised, "Terrorists need money to do what they want to do, and if you buy illegal drugs, some of it might come from you."
Though heroin production is down in Afghanistan, there is still much money to be made. According to DEA estimates, 1 kilogram of heroin can be had for $2,000 on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border. By the time it reaches Moscow, it is worth $150,000.
"Of 28 groups listed as terrorists by the State Department, almost half raise their money through drug trafficking," Steve Riley of the Drug Control office told Reuters.
"It's not like every dollar you spend on pot goes to Osama bin Laden, but the Taliban raised $50 million a year on heroin sales," Mr. Riley said.


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