Pubdate: Sat, 13 May 2006
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 The London Free Press
Author: Patrick Maloney, staff writer
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


One of London's biggest seizures of the illegal prescription drug
known as "hillbilly heroin" happened not in an alley, but inside a
business at a main downtown intersection.

London police raided the Cup of Coffee variety store at Dundas and
Richmond streets Thursday, arresting the clerk and finding more than
300 tablets of OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller.

"This is one of the largest seizures of illegal prescription pills
that (we have) made," Const. Amanda Pfeffer said. "It is central in
the downtown core and that's a great concern to us."

The raid, which followed several buys by an undercover officer,
happened in the tiny shop at 413 Richmond St. -- near the northwest
corner of the intersection -- about 4 p.m. The store was searched a
few hours later, police said.

All told, police found 332, 80-milligram pills of OxyContin and nearly
100, five-milligram pills of a similar painkiller -- worth a total of
nearly $8,500. Police also seized cash, but didn't say how much.

News of the raid didn't surprise officials with MainStreet London,
whose office is just a stone's throw away.

"We're a big city. Every downtown experiences (drug troubles)," said
manager Janette MacDonald, whose organization promotes downtown

"We're advocates for getting the drug dealers away from downtown and
away from London if we can.

"They're not welcome down here. And we want everybody to do everything
they can to report it and get rid of it."

It's unclear where the drugs came from. But police have said the
popularity of hillbilly heroin fuelled the robberies of four London
pharmacies this year.

OxyContin, which got its nickname after becoming the drug of choice in
small towns, is prescribed for people suffering chronic pain,
including cancer patients. It's highly addictive, making its illegal
users all the more dangerous.

"These people are very unpredictable, driven by the physical urge that
needs to be satisfied," Pfeffer said in March.

"They're threatening violence and there's no reason to believe they
won't use the level of violence they're threatening."

Samir Bobo, 40, faces several charges, including three counts of
trafficking, two counts of possession for the purposes of trafficking
and three counts of possession of the proceeds of crime.


- - A potent painkiller, it contains oxycodone, a narcotic similar to
morphine widely used to treat cancer patients.

- - Known as hillbilly heroin, its other nicknames include Oxy's, oxies,
oxycotton, OC's, killers, oceans, O's and oxycoffins.

- - Highly addictive, OxyContin gives abusers a high similar to
high-grade heroin and causes physical dependency.

- - Dispensed in slow-release tablets, addicts chew the tablet or crush
it, then inject or snort the powder to get the drug's full effect,
which can be fatal.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin