The illegal use of drugs affects everyone in our community. Recognizing these drugs and learning about the threats they pose can help reduce drug related crime.
Pharmaceuticals are not produced here but often locally obtained. As these drugs are often obtained and possessed legally through prescriptions, enforcement of illegal distribution presents special challenges. The street price for Oxycodone has risen to approximately one dollar per milligram, with pills commonly having 5 to 80 milligrams each. Addiction to Oxycodone and the resulting constant need for money fuels criminal acts by addicts and pushes them to switch to heroin, which is cheaper to buy per dose. Addiction to both heroin and Oxycodone has motivated some of the more significant crimes that have been committed in Washington County, such as burglary and armed robbery. The Drug Unit treats narcotic pharmaceuticals as a serious threat.
Common pharmaceutical drugs include oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and Suboxone. These drugs, obtained with a valid prescription, are frequently misused by being sold instead of used by the legal possessor. They are also stolen by friends, roommates or family members who then sell them. Occasionally a user will call in a false report of theft or burglary so that he/she can obtain a replacement prescription from their doctor. The Drug Unit has encountered people who have a legitimate need for pain medication and a valid prescription, but sell their oxycodone for a profit and then buy themselves cheaper drugs for their own use, pocketing the savings. Suboxone has been in the local news recently as it was responsible for a pair of deaths in nearby jurisdictions.
The Drug Unit has tracked subjects who are doctor shopping and using other methods of prescription drug diversion. One search warrant in 2007 seized almost 4,000 pills of many different types from a suspect who would obtain them from various doctors and then sell a majority of them for a profit. It is the large amounts and legality of these prescription drugs that make investigation and seizure difficult.
As the availability and abuse of pharmaceuticals increases, it is likely that crimes associated with addiction will also increase. Many fraud, bad checks, and theft cases have been committed because of Oxycodone addiction. Addiction to pharmaceuticals has been the reason behind strings of burglaries, as well as armed robberies. In one case, two friends committed 16 burglaries in our county and burglaries in other jurisdictions. The reason behind their drive to commit these crimes was their addiction to Oxycodone. Three suspects, all addicted to Oxycodone, were responsible for a bank robbery in 2005. Upon arrest one of the suspects was armed with two handguns and attempted to resist.