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.
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