Everyone has been told about the dangers of drugs and perhaps one of the most notorious of them all is crack.
Crack, a form of cocaine that can be smoked, is considered the most addictive form of the illegal drug. A huge surge of it happened in the 1980’s and 1990’s, which led to what is now called crack epidemics. These epidemics affected thousands of lives and impacted the culture of the city as well.
This impact and effect of the crack epidemic is exactly what American crime drama Snowfall puts at the center of its story. Created by John Singleton, Eric Amadio, and Dave Andron, the show is set in 1980’s LA during the city’s first crack epidemic. The show tells the stories of characters whose lives were entangled and affected by the epidemic and were made to meet somehow in some way. Mainly these characters are young and hungry entrepreneur Franklin Saint, struggling Mexican wrestler Gustavo Apata, CIA operative Teddy McDonald, and Mexican crime lord heiress Luica Villanueva.
Season one saw each character in their path for their own desires, but season two showed exactly how potent the series’ drama can be when the impact of the crack epidemic begins to shake their worlds.
Now about to begin its much-awaited third season, Snowfall has earned widespread positive reviews from fans and critics. Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture praised "the attention [the show] pays to the sights, sounds and textures of people's lives in 1983 Los Angeles, and to fine details of characterization — in other words, the sort of stuff that would never get a dramatic series a green light unless drugs and violence were attached to it."
While fans eagerly anticipate the premiere of Snowfall’s third season, we take a look at some real facts about the early crack epidemics that happened in the United States.
1. It doesn’t take much to make crack, but it still came at a price
A large reason as to why there was a rise in the popularity of this illegal drug was because even small-time drug dealers could manufacture it and still sell it for a large profit. However, this caused strong competition within cartels and dealers leading to extremely violent situations and environments in the cities.
Because dealers would try to defend their turf and stop other dealers from poaching their customers, they would often resort to violence within many cities in America. In the end, the crack epidemics didn’t just create addicts, but murderers too.
2. Crack was created because there was a surplus of cocaine
Because the early ‘80s saw an all-time high in the popularity of cocaine, cartels created huge quantities of it. However, the overproduction of it risked the decrease of the price of the actual drug. Carribean drug dealers’ solution to this price drop was the invention of a new product — something more discreet, easier to ingest, and more convenient to sell in small quantities. By just combining powdered cocaine with other substances, crack was then born.
3. The invention of crack created an astronomical rise in cocaine addicts
Because it was easier to produce and deliver, crack was also cheaper to buy on the streets. To make it even worse, however, it created an even more potent and instantaneous high for users. Just a few years after it was introduced in the early ‘80s, the number of cocaine addicts in the United States leapt up by an astronomical 1.6 million.
4. The crack epidemic tore Los Angeles apart
While it was a huge problem all over the United States, the crack epidemics was worst in Los Angeles. It was widely considered the crack capital of the country, and was even dubbed “the largest retail market for cocaine.”
And because where crack is, violence is sure to follow, LA quickly became a shooting range. According to the LAPD, there was an average of one violent crime every eight minutes. Because the surge of violence kept the police busy, larger crimes even went unnoticed. In the decade that crack cocaine was at its heyday, at least five different serial killers killed over a hundred women according to the LA Times.
5. The military was unofficially brought into the crack epidemics
The infamous Batteram, a modified tank that was decommissioned by the military, was used by the LAPD in their war against crack cocaine. It was used to ram and knock down the front doors of suspected crack houses, but it was only ever brought out in poor and predominantly black neighbourhoods.
This created a lot of backlash from concerned citizens who did not approve about the overly aggressive and violent means that the LAPD was using in this drug war. Soon, the Batteram became an icon for the overly aggressive fear tactics that the police were using during the crack epidemics.
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