Journal Published Online: 01 July 2002
Volume 47, Issue 4

Ten Years of “Body Packers” in New York City: 50 Deaths



We reviewed all 50 body packer deaths in New York City from 1990 to 2001. The majority (37/50) of deaths were caused by acute intoxications due to open or leaking drug packets in the gastrointestinal tract. The number of packets recovered ranged from 1 to 111 (average 46). The weight of the combined packets ranged from 9.4 to 1200 g (average of 377). The age ranged from 19 to 57 years (mean 37.1). The decedents were: 82% male, 66% Hispanic, 24% Black, and 10% White. The manners of death were 47 accidents, 1 homicide, 1 natural, and 1 undetermined. The causes of death included 42 acute intoxications, 5 intestinal obstructions/bowel perforations, 1 gunshot wound, 1 intracerebral hemorrhage due to hypertensive disease, and 1 undetermined. Of the 50 decedents, 42 were transporting opiates, 4 cocaine, and 4 both opiates and cocaine. There were 9 deaths from 1990–1995 and 41 from 1996–2001. Of the 41 deaths between 1996 and 2001, only 6 involved cocaine. In New York City there has been an increase in body packer deaths from the early 1990s to the late 1990s. Along with this increase is a marked predominance of opiate body packer deaths with few cocaine deaths.

Author Information

Gill, JR
New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
Graham, SM
New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
Pages: 4
Price: $25.00
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Stock #: JFS15469J
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS15469J