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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon on Thursday lifted the ban on transgender people serving openly in the military, saying that the armed services "don't want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualifications to serve," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

Carter made the announcement at a Pentagon news conference and said that the change is effective immediately.

Top Pentagon officials had finalized final details of the plan earlier in the week and approval came from Carter.

"The defense department and the military need to avail ourselves of all talent possible in order to remain what we are now -- the finest fighting force the world has ever known," Carter said. "We don't want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualifications to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission."

The plan directs each branch of the armed services to implement new policies affecting recruiting, medical care, housing and uniforms for transgender troops. The military services will conduct training over the next couple of months.

Last July, Carter announced lifting the ban and formed a task force to review how that would occur. He directed the task force to work under the assumption that the ban would be lifted.

The task force's assessment continued beyond the original six-month deadline and recommendations were not presented until February.

"All this represents a sea change from even a decade ago," said Carter.

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Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to Independence Day celebrations, getting there can be half the battle.

There will be almost 11 million air travelers this July 4 weekend, based off scheduled seats, according to travel website Hopper. With so many people taking advantage of the long weekend, travelers should brace themselves for crowded terminals.

The busiest airport this holiday weekend will be Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with over 600,000 passengers expected to pass through, though many of those passengers will be in transit to their final destination, Hopper found.

And even though New York topped the list of most popular destinations, there will be more locals flying out than visitors flying in. Surprisingly, New York came in fourth place on the list of top 10 busiest airports.

Here’s the full rundown of busiest airports this weekend:

1. Atlanta (ATL)

2. Los Angeles (LAX)

3. Chicago (ORD)

4. New York City (JFK)

5. Dallas (DFW)

6. San Francisco (SFO)

7. Denver (DEN)

8. Seattle (SEA)

9. Charlotte (CLT)

10. Las Vegas (LAS)

Hopper was also able to determine that Friday will be the busiest day this weekend to travel, with 3.1 million seats scheduled. And though it depends on the airport, travelers can expect the longest lines around 10:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m.

With these tips in your back pocket, plan accordingly to beat the crowds and arrive at your gate in time.

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iStock/Thinkstock(MADISON, Wis.) -- A jury acquitted a mother from Wisconsin of charges that she used her cellphone seconds before a fatal car crash involving three children.

Kari Jo Milberg was charged with three counts of felony homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle, as well as a misdemeanor count of reckless driving. The crash occurred on Wisconsin Highway 35 in December 2013.

The 35-year-old mother was driving her car when she drove into the path of a truck, resulting in a crash that killed her 11-year-old daughter, Lydia, as well as 5-year-old Clara, the daughter of her sister, Kati, and 4 1/2-year-old Laynie, the daughter of Milberg's other sister, Kassi. Milberg's then 3-year-old son survived the crash.

Milberg claimed she lost control of the car because of slippery snow-covered roads and unsafe tires. The prosecution alleged Milberg was on her cellphone using Facebook messaging moments before the fatal collision.

In court, prosecutors said they found Facebook messages on Milberg's phone between her and a childhood friend about meeting for lunch. The phone was found by investigator Aaron Hansen four months after the crash.

Prosecutors presented a string of messages between Milberg and Jason McKenzie. The final exchange between the two friends was: "Takes a lot to get me nervous," McKenzie wrote. Milberg replied, "I am 2! Kinda bad!"

Prosecutors asserted Milberg's message was sent less than 30 seconds before the crash.

Hansen testified that he discovered a Facebook message typed but not sent when he examined Milberg's phone. "It appeared something was written in the composition line, but I couldn't make out what it was," he told the court.

McKenzie also took the stand and claimed he did not remember texting with Milberg on the day of the crash.

Milberg claimed in court she lost all memory of the accident and defense attorney Aaron Nelson reiterated her claims during cross examination that the snowy conditions and unsafe tires were to blame for Milberg's losing control of the car.

After nearly two hours of deliberations, the jury acquitted Milberg of all charges.

Milberg did not speak publicly after the jury's decision. Her sister, Kati Marie Milberg-Pavek, who lost her daughter in the crash, told ABC News she was "relieved."

"I'm relived, I'm breathing full breaths of air again. I love Clara, Lydia and Laynie with every fiber in my body," she said in a statement.

Pierce County District Attorney Sean Froelich said after the decision: "I respect the jury's verdict in this particular case. Regardless of the outcome it doesn't change the fact that three children lost their lives in this crash."

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Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Fireworks won't fly this Fourth of July, or any other day for that matter. To avoid having them confiscated, leave the fireworks at home, the Transportation Security Administration says.

"Fireworks and firecrackers are explosive and flammable, so in an effort to keep the skies safe, fireworks are prohibited from being transported in both carry-on and checked bags," the TSA wrote on its blog. "TSA is responsible for enforcing this FAA rule by intercepting these items during screening."

Aerial repeater fireworks, aerial shell fireworks, firecrackers, flying spinners, chasers, fountains, bottle rockets, ground spinners, parachute fireworks, poppers, snaps, skyrockets, missiles, roman candles, smoke fireworks, snakes, strobes, sparklers, wheels and anything else firework-related is not permitted on a commercial aircraft in checked or carry-on luggage.

Hot dogs, and other solid food items, can travel in your carry-on bags. Liquid food items -- like your special BBQ sauce -- have to be checked.

Have a question about what flies with the TSA? Check out the agency's handy "Can I bring my . . ." tool. You can also tweet the TSA your questions @AskTSA 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, weekdays; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekends and holidays.

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ABC News(PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY) — A pre-scheduled drill at Joint Base Andrews in Prince George's County, Maryland, prompted a lockdown Thursday morning after someone saw the armed drill and called authorities, a law enforcement source said.

"The base was scheduled to conduct an active shooter exercise, however, reports of a real-world active shooter situation were reported at Malcolm Grow medical facility," the base said.

The lockdown has now been lifted.

Earlier, all personnel at the base had been told to shelter in place.

Vice President Joe Biden was expected to leave from the base Thursday for Ohio.

The U.S. military facility, located about 17 miles outside of Washington, D.C., is home to Air Force One.

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Cpl. William Hester(PARRIS ISLAND, S.C.) — Fifteen drill instructors at the Marine boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, are under investigation for possible hazing and abuse as part of a broader review of the behavior of Marine Corps drill instructors, the Marine Corps announced Wednesday.

The review stems from an investigation into the apparent suicide of a Muslim recruit in March.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Marine Training and Education Command (TECOM) said allegations are being investigated against the 15 drill instructors and affiliated leadership to "identify potential violations of Marine Corps orders to include hazing, physical abuse, assault and failure of supervision."

The Command said the investigations date back to November 2015 and appear isolated to companies within the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island.

The Parris Island recruit depot is the facility that puts Marine recruits who live east of the Mississippi River through the intense rigors of its intense 13-week boot camp. The Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, trains Marine recruits from states west of the Mississippi.

The investigation into the drill instructor climate at Parris Island is a result of the the initial investigation into the circumstances behind the apparent suicide of 20-year-old Raheel Siddiqui from Taylor, Michigan. He died March 18 after falling three stories from a stairwell in his barracks. Siddiqui had arrived at the Parris Island facility just days earlier.

In April, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell asked the Marine Corps, on behalf of Siddiqui's family, to ascertain if his Muslim faith and Pakistani heritage may have resulted in hazing that contributed to his death.

"During the course of the Recruit Siddiqui death investigation, facts revealed a drill instructor was improperly placed in charge of recruits while he was subject to an ongoing investigation," said the Marine statement. "Existing orders, policies and procedures to prevent improper assignments were not followed. Interim corrective actions have already been taken."

The 15 drill instructors under investigation have been reassigned to duties that do not involve direct access to Marine recruits.

"We take every allegation of misconduct very seriously and will review each investigation carefully," said Major General James W. Lukeman, TECOM Commanding General.

"MCRD Parris Island and MCRD San Diego are Marine Corps institutions entrusted by the American people to transform the best of our nation's young men and women into U.S. Marines," he said. "Every day, approximately 1,000 drill instructors at our recruit depots are doing exactly what they were screened, selected and trained to do in a professional, appropriate manner. The safety of the recruits and the integrity of the Marine Corps recruit training program are among our top priorities and, once the investigations are complete, we will take necessary administrative and judicial action as warranted to ensure proper accountability."

The TECOM statement said once all the investigations at Parris Island are complete, Lukeman "will determine the appropriate administrative and judicial actions necessary based on the findings."

The initial investigation into Siddiqui's death has already resulted in the removal from command of the senior officer in charge of the 3rd Training Battalion.

Three weeks ago, Colonel Paul D. Cucinotta, the unit's commanding officer, was removed from his leadership position for what Lukeman called "a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to serve in that position." A Marine statement said Cucinotta's removal "was based on information made known to Lukeman during the course of an ongoing command investigation related to instances where policies and procedures were not followed."

Cucinotta's senior enlisted adviser Sergeant Major Nicholas Deabreu was also removed from his post.

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Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WEST GLACIER, Mont.) — A law enforcement officer with the U.S. Forest Service was killed in a bear attack Wednesday on U.S. Forest land in Montana, according to officials.

Brad Treat, 38, of West Glacier, Montana, was fatally attacked by the grizzly bear shortly after 2 p.m. on U.S. Forest land in the Halfmoon Lakes area near West Glacier National Park, Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry said Wednesday evening.

"Treat was mountain biking on a trail with another male at the time of the attack," Sheriff Curry said in a statement. "It appears they likely surprised the bear and Treat was taken off his bike by the bear. He was pronounced dead on the scene. The second rider was able to exit the area to summon help and was not injured or involved in the attack."

Sheriff Curry described Treat "an integral member of our area law enforcement team and a friend to us all."

The incident is under investigation by the Wildlife Human Attack Response Team of the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks, the U.S Forest Service and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office.

The area has been closed by the Forest Service for public safety pending completion of the investigation.

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twitter.com/Tonka_Boy_Dre(OAKLAND, Calif.) — Motorists on a California freeway witnessed a very bizarre police chase on Sunday -- and not surprisingly, it was caught on video.

In the video posted to Twitter by user @Tonka_Boy_Dre, a man is spotted whizzing down Interstate 880 in Oakland, California, in a go-kart while being chased by an unmarked police vehicle.

"Local guys have an annual go kart and dirt bike ride throughout Oakland and sometimes jump on the freeway," @Tonka_Boy_Dre tweeted.

Apparently, the man's fellow go-karters escaped the wrath of police. "This particular person on the go-kart was the slowest and the last in the pack," @Tonka_Boy_Dre further tweeted. "That's why he was being chased by police."


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iStock/Thinkstock(PANHANDLE, Texas) -- The remains of two of the three railroad employees who went missing during a fiery crash between freight trains have been recovered, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway said today.

The third missing employee is still unaccounted for, the railway said. Recovery efforts for the missing employee are continuing, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Four BNSF employees were involved when the two trains collided Tuesday morning near Panhandle, Texas.

"They just went face to face with each other and collided," witness Mason Maas told ABC News. "I've never seen a crash like this."

While three employees were missing Tuesday, the fourth employee was found and hospitalized in stable condition, said Patrick Buckley of the Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Dan Buesing told ABC News earlier today that all three missing employees were presumed dead. He said crews moved from a rescue effort to recovery operation Tuesday night.

 “The entire BNSF family is terribly saddened by this event and we extend our deepest sympathy and thoughts to the families and friends of the employees involved in this incident," Carl Ice, President and Chief Executive Officer of BNSF Railway, said in a statement today. "This is an extremely difficult time and our entire organization grieves for the loss of our colleagues."

Buesing said today the cause of the crash remained under investigation.

Rail Safety Investigator Richard Hipskind of the NTSB - which is overseeing the investigation - said today the collision caused at least 1 of the trains to derail. The investigation will focus on mechanics, equipment, human operator error, data recorders and witness reports, Hipskind said.

BNSF said in a statement Tuesday: "Our investigation is in the very early stages but based on the limited information we have reviewed, it appears that this is the type of incident that positive train control technology (PTC) is intended to prevent. This is why we have been aggressively deploying PTC across our network. While sections of the track operated by the eastbound train involved in this accident have PTC installed and are being tested, the section of track where the incident occurred will be installed later this year."

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) --  The “only thing” that stopped a Pennsylvania man allegedly bent on gunning down people at the White House last month “was a gunshot to his chest” by a Secret Service agent.

That’s the assessment of a federal judge after prosecutors played surveillance video in court this week showing exactly what led the Secret Service agent to open fire on Jessie Olivieri last month.

On May 20, Olivieri left his home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and drove his white Toyota Camry to a park near the White House, according to U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey.

After apparently firing one shot there, Olivieri approached the White House, passing through a security gate on the perimeter of the White House grounds and ignoring Secret Service officers’ orders to stop, Harvey noted.

When Olivieri reached an inner gate, another Secret Service agent confronted him.

“The agent, standing behind the gate and in [Olivieri’s] path, ordered [him] to halt and drop the gun. He did neither, even seeming to wave off the commands with the hand not holding the gun. Moments later, the agent shot him in the chest,” Harvey wrote in a court document filed today and based on the video, which was obtained by ABC News.

Authorities said Olivieri later told authorities, “I came here to shoot people,” and that he went to the White House looking to commit “suicide by police.”

His “actions endangered not only himself and the officers, but also the community, since innocent citizens may have been caught in crossfire between Defendant and the officers,” Harvey said in today's filing, ruling that Olivieri must stay behind bars pending trial.

In his ruling, Harvey indicated he believes Olivieri may suffer from mental illness.

Olivieri now stands charged with forcibly resisting or impeding a law enforcement officer in the execution of his duties with a dangerous weapon, and “attempting and conspiring to do the same.” If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Olivieri's attorney did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Firefighters rescued eight people who got stuck on a roller coaster 100 feet above the ground in Oklahoma city.

The Oklahoma City Fire Department responded to the scene at the western-themed amusement park Frontier City this afternoon and rescued eight passengers. No injuries were reported, according to the Fire Department's official Twitter account.

In a statement, Frontier City said a train on the Silver Bullet ride stalled on the lift. The back half of the cars were able to be evacuated by park personnel, but due to the position of the train, firefighters were called in to escort the riders in the front cars to the ground.

"Guest safety is Frontier City’s top priority," the park said, adding that a "thorough investigation" into why the ride stalled will take place.

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Alexandra Poulos (LANSDOWNE, Pa.) -- Alexendra Poulos, of Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, always knew there was something special about her house. And now, her suspicious have been justified.

Poulos believes she’s discovered a piece of true American history— a secret room below her basement that was once part of the Underground Railroad.

“This is such a weird, odd story,” Poulos, 43, told ABC News of her beloved white, Colonial-style home. “When I was a child I would have random dreams about there being other rooms in the house. I’d look it up on dream meanings sites and people always thought I just had a crazy imagination.”

When her mother and her brother passed away within a year of each other, Poulos had her father sign over the rights of the home to her so it would remain in their family, despite him moving out.

“It’s my childhood home. My parents bought it in 1974,” she explained. “I had my dad sign the house over to me because I just love it so much. I started renting it out and now we have awesome tenants. They’re such awesome people and they remind me of my family.”

Recently however, the burdens of being a landlord starting sinking in when multiple things in the home’s basement starting breaking one after another.

“First it was oil tank that went, and then after that it was an old cast iron sewer pipe that just started cracking, so I had to get that replaced,” she said. “And then Jerry [her tenant] called me and said, ‘Alex, you have to come to the house because there’s cracks in the walls. I always respond right away because I try to keep the house as I would want it because I still love it.”

With the basement fresh on her mind, she remembered a rumor that a former neighbor told her father years ago.

“There was a neighbor out back, an old doctor and his wife,” Poulos recalled. “She told my dad, ‘You know there’s a basement under your basement.’ My dad just thought she was crazy or whatever. Long story short, I always had that in the back of my mind."

“For the past couple weeks I’ve been looking stuff up on the history of homes in the area,” she added. “It was like 2 a.m. one night and I came across an article that said there was this house that’s like a five minute drive from my house, and the owners found out it was linked to the Underground Railroad. They said they knew it was down there and they knew it was covered up by cement. And then I knew -- that was it.”

The light bulb had gone off in her mind that perhaps her home could be associated with the Underground Railroad, also.

When Poulos called Baldwin Masonry to make sure the cracks were taken care of in the basement to support the foundation, she asked them an odd question.

“I asked him if when he’s digging in the basement, ‘Can you dig a little deeper?,’” she said of the unusual request. “And I knew he thought I was a total nut. But I explained the possible historical connection and he wrote me back and said, ‘Yeah, I’ve never encountered anything like that but that would be really neat.’”

The very next day, the homeowner got a call from the workers that they had found something strange.

“I get a call saying, ‘You’re not going to believe this. They found it,’” Poulos said of the large hole in the basement floor that leads to entirely new room 14-feet-below. “I said, ‘You’re joking.’ I swear to God they found it. It’s a whole other area of the house.”

“It’s just suspicious because I think what we found might have pre-dated the house being built,” said Jerry Sanders, Poulos’ current tenant. “It’s about 14 feet deep, and maybe about 6 to 8 feet wide by about 15 feet long. It’s a nice size room.”

There is also a makeshift stone wall on one side with one stone jutting out that is particularly lose. But they haven’t wanted to investigate what’s behind the wall too much for fear of the foundation being affected.

Local historians say there are plenty of other reasons the hidden room may exist, but doesn’t discount the historical prevalence of the Underground Railroad in that area. “The region in general historically has been known as an abolitionist sympathizer area that probably did have a good number of people who have been involved in or were sympathetic to anti-slavery activism, including potential participation in the Underground Railroad,” said Rachel Moloshok, managing editor of publications for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

“The only way to really follow up on that would be to research who the owners were in the past and follow up on property records and see if there were people who were known to be vocal abolitionists based on the actual documentation of that,” she added. “Then you can make inferences.”

Moloshok said the room could also have been anything from a storage room to somebody who had a family secret to keep, or perhaps “somebody was paranoid and hiding gold.”

No matter what, Poulos is thrilled about her mysterious new discovery.

“I need to figure out next steps,” she said. “Jerry is so enthralled by it. They’re just as obsessed with this stuff as I am. Jerry said, ‘I’ve always known this house is special from the second I walked in. It’s like a spirit saying, ‘don’t leave me.’”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Airports across the country are seeing an increased security presence inside and outside their terminals as Istanbul reels from an attack that left at least 41 people dead and 239 others injured.

According to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, a trio of armed attackers opened fire last night before blowing themselves up at Turkey’s biggest airport, where travelers are screened before even entering the terminal.

The procedures at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport are similar to those across the Middle East, but unlike those in the United States.

Airports in New York, Miami, Atlanta and San Francisco told ABC News they will have an increased police presence in the wake of the attack, but at no American airport will you find screening prior to the terminal.

Aviation security in the United States has focused its efforts on the security checkpoints after the ticket counters, where the Transportation Security Administration screens all passengers and luggage just prior to the secure area.

Local law enforcement in the United States takes the lead on any security before these checkpoints, but does not screen travelers as they arrive at the airport.

Someone departing a major airport in the Middle East, however, would likely see enhanced safety efforts prior to their entry to the terminal.

Security for your flight out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport begins before you even leave for the airport.

When someone purchases a ticket out of Israel’s flagship airport, their name is run through a database. Their identity is vetted before they ever arrive for their flight.

When one does leave for Ben Gurion, security checkpoints may be on the roadway approaching the airport. At these locations, vehicles are checked for explosives and behavioral detection officers may ask the occupants questions, looking for any number of signs indicating nefarious intentions.

 When approaching one of these major Middle Eastern terminals, more behavioral detection officers are looking for any physical or behavioral signs inconsistent with the regular traveling process.

Any traveler may show signs of nervousness, but how are they walking? Checking if one's pace or gait is consistent with carrying an awkward or heavy hidden object.

Are they dressed for the weather? A person wearing a long coat on a hot day in the Middle East is likely to be asked a few questions.

These officers are carefully watching passengers eye movements or arm placement. Someone carrying something hidden on around their waist may subconsciously place their arm there.

These are just a few examples of the many things security officers at airports not only in the Middle East, but around the world are looking for, hoping to prevent the next devastating attack.

The focus in the United States will now be on increasing highly-visible security personnel on the perimeter of the terminals, according to John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary at the Department of Homeland Security and now an ABC News consultant.

“These current events demonstrate that we have to look at the threat environment more broadly to include parts of the airport prior to security checkpoint,” Cohen said. “All of these instances show that we need to look at how we can expand security to areas that include entry and exit of the airports.”

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A Tennessee boy used his allowance money and scoured clearance sales to buy books to donate to a local library in hopes the books would “click” with inmates and help them turn their lives around.

Tyler Fugett, 9, appeared unannounced at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office last week with more than 100 books he wanted to donate to the local jail.

The Clarksville, Tenn., fifth-grader had asked his mom, Rebecca Corkren, if she would take him to sales at local book stores so he could use his allowance money to purchase books for inmates to read.

“He said, ‘When I’m thinking bad thoughts, I like to read, so I want to collect books for them,’” Corkren told ABC News, adding that Tyler had a family member who spent time in jail.

Tyler told his mom he wanted to help the inmates not be bored while behind bars and help them find a new way forward.

“He said, ‘If they read, they don’t have time to think about doing bad things when they come out. Maybe they’ll find one thing in there that would make them click to be better people.’”

The sheriff's office accepted the donation with open arms.

“Our jail library has no budget and there’s no taxpayer money that goes towards it,” said Sandra Brandon, public information officer for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. “We rely 100 percent on donations so when we get anything we’re just very excited.”

Tyler and his mom are returning to the sheriff’s office today with another box of donated books. Corkren said Tyler is also now collecting toiletry items to donate to inmates and other people in need.

“He has my house looking like a store and I’m like, ‘Whatever floats your boat, son,’ because he’s doing the right thing,” Corkren said. “We live penny to penny and for him to do this, it’s a blessing to see.

“I’ve never seen a child with a heart like his.”

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National Center for Health Statistics/CDC(WASHINGTON) -- The Drug Enforcement Administration is out with a new report on heroin use in the United States and the news is grim.

Deaths from heroin overdoses have spiked in recent years, tripling between 2010 to 2014, according to the DEA National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary, released this week.

In 2014, the most recent year of the study, 10,574 people died, compared to 3,036 four years earlier.

The increased demand is being driven by greater availability, as well as prescription drug abusers switching to heroin for the cheaper price tag, according to the DEA.

Other possible reasons for the increase in deaths include an increase in new and inexperienced users, as well as the use of highly toxic heroin adulterants such as fentanyl in certain markets, according to the DEA.

DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said last month that the agency is increasingly encountering counterfeit prescription drugs laced with fentanyl and fentanyl derivatives, as well as heroin laced with fentanyl.

“The trafficking of this drug [fentanyl], which is significantly more potent than street level heroin, presents a significant risk of overdose,” he said in his statement to the Judiciary Committee on June 22.

Heroin availability is increasing across the county, but the threat is particularly high in the Northeast and Midwest, where white powder heroin is used, according to the 2016 National Drug Threat Survey.

Over the five-year period covered in the report, the DEA said Mexican traffickers gained a larger share of the most lucrative heroin markets in the United States -- Baltimore, Boston and its surrounding cities, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Mexican trafficking organizations also moved operations into suburban and rural areas, where they believe they can more easily conceal their activities, the report noted.

What is not seen in these numbers, which end in 2014, is the steep rise in deaths caused by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. More recent state numbers, however, show an alarming trend.

In Virginia, fentanyl overdose deaths went from 50 in 2012 to 218 in 2015. In New Hampshire, 283 died from fentanyl overdoses in 2015 and authorities expect to smash through that number this year.

However, the numbers do show that starting in late 2013, several states reported spikes in overdose deaths due to fentanyl.

DEA officials say they expect to see the deaths from fentanyl increase and perhaps outpace deaths from heroin. The drug is so deadly that a mere 2 milligrams can be lethal. It is increasingly showing up on American streets not just as an adulterant to heroin but pressed into pills that look identical to prescription painkillers.

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