Pubdate: Thu, 13 Jun 2002
Source: Daily Independent, The (KY)
Copyright: 2002 The Daily Independent, Inc.
Author: Ben Fields


SOUTH SHORE - Monday's arrest of physician Rodolfo Santos is the latest in 
a long line of prescription drug-related incidents in this small town.

The state has suspended Santos' medical license over the allegations that 
he prescribed controlled substances for a non-medical purpose.

He is at least the sixth doctor connected with the town to either be 
arrested or lose a license.

Pharmacies in the city are subject to frequent break-ins, including a 
stretch of three at the same pharmacy over a period of two months in late 2000.

It's a problem that affects the quality of life in the city, said Ron 
Stone, a member of the South Shore Board of City Commissioners.

"We love our little town," Stone said. "We've been fighting this and 
fighting it."

Stone alleges that most of the people who seek prescriptions from 
unscrupulous doctors are coming from out of town.

It's a theory backed by Greenup County Sheriff Keith Cooper, who has 
pointed to the misuse of prescription drugs as one of the biggest problems 
currently facing Greenup County.

Cooper said many alleged drug offenders travel from all over to come to 
South Shore and get prescriptions either for their own use or to sell.

Last month, Cooper said his department had made 43 drug-related arrests in 
the South Shore area over a five-week period, and not one of those arrested 
was from Greenup County.

"If people from Ohio and West Virginia and the other counties in Kentucky 
are traveling here to do that, that tells me there's a problem," he said.

Every day the tiny town of about 1,200 people fills up with out-of-towners 
who stand outside of Santos' cash-only practice at Plaza Health Care to get 
prescriptions, Stone said.

"You could come through this little town and mistake it for a metropolis," 
Stone said. "There's no place to park during the day. We've got shoplifting 
and theft problems, and none of these people are local folks."

Tammy Tucker, manager of a Dollar General Store in South Shore, said she 
also sees the problem every day.

Tucker said she's had customers tell her they come into her store because 
they say they don't want to go into stores in the plaza where Santos' 
patients are waiting to get prescriptions.

"People say they're scared to go down there," she said.

There's also more noticeable crime in the city, Tucker said.

"There are more break-ins and more crime in general; vandalism and things 
like that," she said. "When they get the drugs it affects them in different 

Tucker said she and other employees are cautious when they leave the 
building, especially at night.

"We're just more careful," she said. "It (the situation) makes us more 
nervous when we have to go to the bank to make deposits."

Stone said city police and the sheriff's department are trying to crack 
down on the problem.

They have their work cut out for them, Tucker said.

"They're trying, but I don't think it's remedied yet," she said.
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