FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!

PW6 In-Car Camera System - PatrolWitness
The new PW6 In-Car Video System from PatrolWitness is compact, rugged, and...

Top News

Police Fear Country Drug is Making Its Way Into the City as Armed Robbers Hit Area Pharmacies

July 01, 2001  | 

July 4, 2001

LESLIE MILLER, Associated Press Writer

BOSTON (AP) _ Armed robbers looking for the powerful painkiller OxyContin have hit a dozen drug stores around Boston over the past three months _ a sign that the ``hillbilly heroin'' has moved into the urban Northeast.

Gunmen in baseball caps and bandannas over their faces bound a pharmacist and two clerks with duct tape on Sunday and stole the drug from Wells Drug in the Boston suburb of Woburn. The same day, another gun-wielding robber hit Brooks Pharmacy in Somerville.

The robberies come in the wake of reports last year by police, pharmacists and drug counselors of an alarming incidence of OxyContin abuse in rural areas of Maine, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Maryland. The drug has been blamed for scores of deaths, mostly in the South.

Since then, numerous overdoses have also been reported in Philadelphia and throughout Florida.

``The problem first arose in rural areas. Now it's quickly migrated to more populous areas,'' said Charles Miller, spokesman for the National Drug Intelligence Center, part of the U.S. Justice Department. ``There's a large potential for it to spread very rapidly.''

OxyContin abuse first exploded in rural Maine and Appalachia because of the poor economy, a scarcity of cocaine and heroin and large populations of elderly people who use the drug to relieve the pain of cancer or other illnesses.

If taken properly, the synthetic morphine is released slowly into the body, but abusers crush the pills and inhale or inject the powder to get the same kind of euphoric high that heroin brings. OxyContin has been linked to at least 120 overdose deaths nationwide.

``In the last six months, we've had a huge increase in the number of losses resulting from OxyContin,'' said Chuck Young, executive director of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy. Employee theft has contributed to the problem, he said.

Detective Lt. James Pierce, who heads a group of Massachusetts detectives investigating the robberies around Boston, said he is worried that someone is going to get hurt.

Pharmacists are on edge.

Paul Hackett tells his employees never to be alone in his Weymouth pharmacy, where someone tried but failed to break in last week.

He said OxyContin should be reclassified so its theft or misuse brings stiffer penalties, and doctors need to be educated about how dangerous and addictive the drug is.

``Police on foot patrol can't touch a fraction of what's going on,'' he said.

Request more info about this product / service / company

Be the first to comment on this story

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent News

Luxembourg Police to Use New Tesla Model S Police Cars for Patrol
Tesla's all-electric Model S is becoming increasingly popular with police departments...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
Police Magazine