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Michael Codella p2

The author of Alphaville, Michael Codella, talks about the impact of the drug busts by the DEA in 1990, whom he was partnered with, and the effect they had on the crime in Alphabet City, in the Lower East Side in Manhattan… 

READERSVOICE.COM: Heroin has been described as the hub of crime, and you wrote about the shootings, prostitution and other crimes that were associated with it. When they arrested the 40 big time heroin dealers after that DEA operation you were in, did you notice any effects on the Lower East Side? 

MICHAEL CODELLA: After my partners and I arrested the 40 dealers that I speak about in my book Alphaville 1988, there was definitely a noticeable change in the kinds of crimes both committed and the number of crimes.  Soon after that take down, crime almost immediately dropped greatly. It was in noticeable numbers. Robberies, burglaries, shootings — crimes that plague a drug infested neighborhood — drastically dropped.  Where there are little or no drugs to be had, the need to rob and steal decreases. 

Crimes like burglary, robbery, and other violent crimes occur often because the perpetrator is looking to make a fast score of money, in order to make a quick drug buy and get a subsequent quick fix.  If finding a dealer is more difficult, the need to steal money diminishes, until the user can find a dealer. So now that same drug user who was going to commit a robbery to support his habit will most likely leave his usual neighborhood to score drugs somewhere else; and there (his new place to score dope) he/she will most likely rob, burglarize, shoot, or become a victim himself. 

RV: Are there areas that drug users or dealers congregate at now, like the heroin users and dealers did in Alphabet City when you worked there for the NYC Housing Authority Police Department?

MC: Unfortunately, heroin use in New York, and other parts of the United States, has become a lot more common in recent years. With the opioid epidemic, people who can’t afford oxycontin and other prescription opioid pills have turned to heroin. With that said, heroin in many cases can be found in more locations, and it’s usually sold not by big time heroin dealers, but by individuals who are selling in order to make enough money so they themselves can support their own heroin/opioid habit.  So to answer the question, there probably are a few spots throughout the city where users go to score dope, but more likely users find other users who sell a few bags a day to support their own drug habit. 

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