Pubdate: Sun, 18 May 2003
Source: Times Daily (Florence, AL)
Copyright: 2003 Times Daily
Author: Mike Goens,  Senior editor
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


23 on Task Force's List for Arrest

Drug task force agents worked into the predawn hours Saturday in an
operation designed to combat the spread of what has become a major
substance abuse problem in the Shoals.

Lauderdale County Drug Task Force Director Myron Crunk said the abuse
of prescription drugs has reached an alarming state in some circles.
Most of the 23 people targeted in the operation are accused of either
selling or possessing drugs like OxyContin and Lorcets.

"We've been getting a lot of complaints about people pushing
prescription pills, and we've been working on this particular
operation for about six months," Crunk said Saturday morning.
"Prescription medication has become popular among abusers. We hope
this will slow down some of that activity.

"But it's a supply-and-demand thing. As long as there is a market out
there, someone will be trying to sell them."

He said marijuana and cocaine were also involved in some of the cases,
but the focus was clearly on the abuse of prescription drugs. Most of
the abuse involves painkilling medication like OxyContin, which is
often prescribed for cancer patients and others with severe pain.

Agents said a single OxyContin pill sells for about $10.

Only 11 of the 23 people task force members were trying to arrest
overnight could be found by just after 1 a.m. Saturday. Crunk said
that's about what he expected considering the timing of the bust. He
said agents were heading back out Saturday night looking for more.

The raid came less than 12 hours after the task force announced it had
received a state grant to continue the unit. The Alabama Department of
Economic and Community Affairs had withheld funding while a state and
federal investigation into the task force was being conducted.

"We hope this operation shows people that we're back in business, and
we're going to continue working on this ongoing problem," Crunk said.

He said additional charges were filed Friday night against one of the
suspects, Derrick Owes, after agents found a small amount of marijuana
and prescription pills at his house on Holt Avenue when they went
there to make the arrest.

Crunk described the remainder of the night as being routine. Most of
the ones arrested lived in Florence, but the unit also went to rural
Lauderdale County.

In most cases, undercover agents bought the illegal drugs from
suspects, Crunk said.
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