New York officials rounded up twenty-one people after a Craigslist bust over the online sale of prescription painkillers. Brazen in their attempt to make a quick buck, these low-level dealers actually placed ads on the website looking for buyers.
Those arrested included a 62-year-old female photographer, a graduate student from New York University and a financial advisor. There were also regular dealers arrested, those who also push heroin and cocaine. Undercover narcotics agents answered ads and met with these dealers, oftentimes in public places such as parks, train stations and coffee shops.
One ad on the Craigslist site actually offered Percocet pills but requested “No LE please.” The “LE” refers to law enforcement. How foolish, right? Good thing narcotics agents didn’t heed that request.
Pills Sold Online Came From Seller’s Personal Stashes Or Were Stolen From Others
Agents said some of those arrested were simply trying to sell the remainder of pills they were prescribed for illness or injury. Others were trying to sell pills they had stolen from others’ medicine cabinets, even though some didn’t appear to really need the money a few pills would net.
The 10-month investigation involved 63 buys totalling $19,000 in prescription pills and more than $10,000 in cocaine. Bridget Brennan, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor, said some of those arrested indicated they didn’t know what they were doing was illegal. But Brennan wasn’t buying it. She said the offenders would have to be “living under a rock” not to know.
Brennan has reached out to Craigslist to find ways to curb this type of drug marketing on the Internet. Despite this, ads still persist. As of mid-October, there were still posts from the New York City area, including one seeking to trade Ambien for painkillers. Another post was titled “EXCLUSIVE PARTY FAVORS, HIGH DOSE PAIN RELIEF ETC.” The description offers high dosage painkillers, Adderall, medical marijuana and “uncut Columbian nose candy.”
People across the country are finding brazen, ballsy and creative ways to either sell or buy prescription drugs. The country is in the grips of a prescription painkiller epidemic that is also spawning a whole new generation of heroin addicts. In the past, addicts were viewed as the lowest of the low. Now it seems that everyday people are getting hooked on the meds they look to for pain relief. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, kids, professionals – no one seems to be immune from this scourge.
What is clear is that there will always be a supply, as long as there is high demand. And while law enforcement officials spend time and money to target both low-level and high-level dealers, this complex problem doesn’t have a clear-cut or easy solution.
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