Jan, a drugs worker with Streetreach, a Doncaster-based project that offers a range of support services, said: ‘There has been a definite increase in the level of crack . the vast majority are using both crack and heroin. Part of the reason is that the drug is just so much more available.’
The drug has been introduced to the prostitutes in ‘party packs’, which contain £10 worth of heroin and two ‘free’ rocks of crack. The trend is particularly prevalent in Bristol, where each of the city’s 200 prostitutes spends an average of £1,100 a week on crack. Police estimate that this market alone is worth more than £11 million a year.
Asian drug dealers who would previously deal only with heroin are now selling crack as well. In one recent seizure, an Asian teenager was found to be holding 24 wraps of the drug. Detectives say they are determined to prevent crack from taking hold in the way that heroin previously has, but many users believe they are fighting a losing battle because the drug is so powerful.
Prostitutes have traditionally been heroin users, but in an attempt to maximise their profits crack dealers and pimps are deliberately targeting the streetwalkers.
Figures obtained from the latest round of compulsory testing of offenders in Bradford show that half of all those charged with theft, burglary and robbery are testing positive for either heroin or crack cocaine. Half of those found to be using drugs have both heroin and crack in their bloodstream when they are arrested.
One night she was approached by a punter and agreed to sex for £20. But as she reached into her bag for a condom, the man suddenly produced a foot-long knife, stabbed her 43 times and left her for dead.
One drugs liaison officer told The Observer: ‘When you mix crack and prostitution it becomes a 24-hour cycle. You go out and you work long enough to go and get a rock, then you go away and use it and then you go out and do the same all over again. Eventually you need some sleep, so you take heroin in order to come down. Then you wake up and it starts all over again. Crack has become the new pimp and the girls are working harder than ever for it.’
Many of the girls say they were introduced to crack by their pimps, who prefer it because the high it provides lasts minutes rather than hours and the girls can spend more time on the streets earning money. Crack also leaves fewer immediately obvious physical effects: heroin addicts often look unwell and find it difficult to attract clients.
Switching to the highly addictive drug has made many prostitutes so desperate for their next fix that they have lowered their prices. Drug workers in Hull say dozens of teenagers are now offering sex for as little as £5 in order to feed their crack habit. In London’s King’s Cross, dozens of women offer passing men unprotected sex for £10 – the price of a single rock in the capital.
“Obviously, Hailey is an incredible player, but it’s not a 1-on-5 game, it’s a 5-on-5 game,” said Wichers. “We’re battle tested, too. We’re playing good basketball right now and that’s the goal: to be playing the basketball at the end.”
Reserves: Hallie Kamphouse, G, Fr., 5-9; Ellie Van Berkum, G, So., 5-5; Renae Hoekema, F, So., 5-7; Taylor Lentz, F, Fr., 6-0.
But the Pioneers’ strength all year has been their defense, which will be tested by high-scoring Cashmere and super guard Hailey Van Lith, the state’s all-time leading girls basketball scorer, University of Louisville recruit and YouTube sensation.
“We know we’re the underdog, but we have nothing to lose,” said Nooksack Valley coach Shane Wichers. “We’ll go and compete and see what happens. We believe we can win.”
What else did they get for all their hard work? A first-round game against the No.1-ranked team with the No.1-ranked player in the state if not the country.
And you know what? The Pioneers don’t mind.
Fortunately, win or lose, Saturday’s game won’t be the end for Nooksack Valley. By finishing in the top eight of the state’s RPI rankings, the Pioneers are guaranteed a spot in the Yakima SunDome next week.
Starters: Kora Larsen, G, Sr., 5-9; Tehya Moore, G, So., 5-3; Maya Galley, G, Jr., 5-8; McKenna Wichers, F, So. 5-10; Jenna Compton, F, Jr., 5-8.
Friday, Feb. 28
#2 Lynden Christian vs. #7 Annie Wright, 8 p.m., at Mount Vernon
#4 Freeman vs. #5 La Salle, 8 p.m., at West Valley (Spokane)
Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page .