Jan. 20, 2024 – Sam Quinones has been on the front line of reporting on illicit drugs, from his decade as a reporter and writer in Mexico to his decade at the Los Angeles Times covering immigration, drug trafficking, neighborhood issues and gangs/ Noticing the black tar heroin flooding L.A. from the Xalisco, Mexico, region, Quinones started writing about the hell being unleashed on America.

In a 2010 piece, Quinones wrote, “Their success stems from a business model that combines discount pricing, aggressive marketing and customer convenience. Addicts phone in their orders, and drivers take the heroin to them. Crew bosses sometimes make follow-up calls to make sure addicts received good service.”

Quinones left the Times in 2014 to turn his full attention to the tide of prescription opioids in the U.S. in 1996 when Purdue Pharma introduced oxycontin, a supposedly non-addictive answer to all pain.

Quinones soon connected oxycontin to the influx of black tar heroin, realizing that as opioid prescriptions were restricted, a new niche of street opiate consumers emerged.

Oxycontin users began turning to the cheaper and readily available street heroin, delivered right to their doors.

In his book “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic,” Quinones chronicles Purdue Pharma’s aggressive and deceptive marketing, which pressured doctors to prescribe the pills.