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DEA raid reduces OxyContin supply in Spokane

After a recent DEA raid in Spokane that ended a $20 million prescription drug ring, local law enforcement reported that they still arrest people weekly for the possession of OxyContin. The prescription pill epidemic consumes much of the police agency's time and efforts.

While the drug of choice in the city used to be meth, according to an undercover drug agent, opiate pills such as OxyContin have overtaken it in popularity. Heroin costs have decreased, so some addicts may switch to taking pills instead. Regardless of the underlying causes of the local price fluctuations, drug trafficking associated with the rising popularity of the pills has increased.

Pills are now manufactured in doses of 60 to 80 milligrams in order to prevent their breakdown. However, dealers look for the smaller 30 milligram pills, which sell for an average of $26 on the street, to crush for easier ingestion. They reportedly get the pills by stealing them, buying them or writing fake prescriptions on stolen pads. The undercover agent observed that these same pills only cost $7 to $10 in California, so criminal organizations make it a business to ship the drugs to Spokane where they can quickly triple their income in some cases.

Since the DEA bust took much of the OxyContin supply off the streets, local pharmacies could see an increase in robberies. Law enforcement has offered reward money for any tips that lead to the arrest of offenders. The Spokane Police captain added that anyone can easily become addicted to the drug after prescription use and that these pills are not necessarily the province of established criminals.

Drug trafficking crimes mean serious penalties for offenders, especially if federal charges and mandatory minimum penalties are involved. A criminal defense lawyer might be able to suggest treatment instead of prison for clients who face substance abuse issues, particularly if they are facing their first offense.

Source: KHQ, "Prescription Pills: The #1 Drug Taken Off The Streets Of Spokane," Kelsey Watts, March 5, 2013

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