Pubdate: Mon, 27 Jan 2003
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2003 Associated Press
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


BEATTYVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- The popularity of common painkillers became a big
drug problem in a small eastern Kentucky town that affected many, including
a former homecoming queen, court officials and local law enforcement.

The effects of drugs -- particularly the prescription painkiller OxyContin
- -- on the Lee County town of Beattyville was the subject of a story
published Sunday by the Lexington Herald Leader. The story was part of a
series of articles by the newspaper on drug abuse and its damages in eastern

OxyContin swept into eastern Kentucky several years ago, resulting in
hundreds of addicts and dozens of dealers. And nearly the entire town of
Beattyville has suffered from the problem in some way, the Herald- Leader

In 1984, Michele Moore was crowned homecoming queen. By 2001, Moore had
become a drug addict -- abusing OxyContin and methamphetamine -- a single
mother of two and wanted by police for selling drugs. Inside her mobile
home, she had taken down her high school photographs.

"I couldn't look at my pictures, to look at what I was and what I'd become,"
she said.

Moore says she has been to drug treatment three times since her arrest in
December 2001.

But addicts aren't the only ones affected by the drugs.

Local prosecutor Tom Hall's stepdaughter stole from him, court records show,
to buy painkillers from a man who later pleaded guilty to dealing drugs.

The owner of the local diner -- Hazel Davidson -- had to post bond after her
son was charged with selling OxyContin in 2001. And former Circuit Judge Ed
Jackson's wife swore out an arrest warrant in 1997 accusing their daughter
of assaulting her, charges she later dropped. By court order, the girl was
sent to a drug-treatment center.

Shortly afterward, police arrested the son of magistrate Ronnie Paul Begley
for having a syringe full of an OxyContin solution.

With such stories of lives undone, Beattyville police unveiled Operation
Grinch, a Christmastime drug roundup, in 2001. Police fanned out across
Beattyville to arrest more than four dozen alleged drug dealers, including

In planning the drug sweep, the city was forced to devise, execute and even
fund its own large-scale crackdown -- something that had never been done
before. In fact, in the 90s two former Lee County sheriffs and a former
police chief were arrested by the FBI, charged with protecting drug
shipments and obstructing a drug investigation.

After arranging a deal with the local bank, cash was advanced a few thousand
dollars at a time over several months to the five-member police department.
By the end, officer Matt Easter and his partner, Capt. Joe Lucas, spent
$15,000 on the Christmastime bust.

Neither officer had done undercover work before. They got a state police
detective to give them a crash course.

The three of them sat in an unmarked state police car in the parking lot of
a grocery store and went over the right way to document a drug buy, how to
set up tape recorders and other details.

Afterward, Lucas and Easter went back to their office, called an electronics
company and ordered the same kind of recorder the state police use. They
also typed up an evidence form modeled after one the detective gave them,
substituting "Beattyville Police" where it said "Kentucky State Police."

Easter and Lucas found it wasn't easy trying to run a drug sting in a small

The Beattyville Police Department couldn't spare them for full-time drug
work. The two would spend hours on routine reports, only to get off shift
and then work on the drug investigation. Much of the extra time was unpaid,
the two said.

The first undercover buy was in June 2001: four bags of poor-quality
cocaine, totaling one gram, for $100.

Over the next five months, police said, informants made 85 more purchases.
The list of alleged dealers grew to eight pages; it included sales of
methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, Lortab, Xanax, OxyContin and other

The purchases continued through late November.

In December, when it came time to start arresting people, police set up a
booking area at the fire station because the police department was too

Carl Noble, one of those arrested, said the scene was "kind of like going to
a high school ballgame. It was crowded."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh