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Hoffman's death shines light on New York's heroin problem

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

In the wake of the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, police are looking for a drug dealer who sells a brand of heroin called Ace of Spades, my law enforcement sources told me. They said it was stamped on some of the drug envelopes allegedly found in the Oscar winner's apartment.

Hoffman appeared to have it all: fame, friends and a family who loved him. It all came to a tragic end on Sunday, when he was found dead in his $10,000-a-month West Village apartment, with a needle stuck in his arm. It came as a shock to many, even though he reportedly battled addiction, and as recently as last spring did a brief stint in rehab.

Heroin use is more than a habit, Dr. Harris Stratyner said. Scoring the drug becomes a ritual.

Police sources say tiny glassine envelopes containing individual doses of heroin, selling for $6 to $10 a hit, were found in his apartment. Some bore the name Ace of Spades, a brand not seen by Brooklyn heroin users since 2009 and by the DEA since 2008.

DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt told me branding is key to a dealer's illicit business plan. He said the city is flooded with heroin, as evidenced by a bust they made last week: $8 million worth of heroin seized from a New Jack City-style drug mill inside a Bronx apartment. DEA agents seized decks, or 10 packs of heroin, and the stamps with the brand names, even one for the NFL.

The city Health Department told me heroin-related deaths have skyrocketed 84 percent from 2010 to 2012.

I spoke with a recovering heroin addict who told me he did not want to glorify the drug but wants to warn others how easy it is to get hooked.

Doctors for the city's Medical Examiner are investigating Hoffman's death and should have definitive toxicology results by the end of the week.


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