Pills are becoming a bigger problem - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Pills are becoming a bigger problem

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A.D.D.U. Commander Major Bill Berry A.D.D.U. Commander Major Bill Berry

South Georgia drug agents say illegal sales of prescription drugs is a fast growing crime issue. The GBI reports a ten percent increase in the number of overdose deaths from prescription drugs in Georgia in just one year.

Albany Dougherty Drug Unit officials say illegal prescription pill sales on the streets of South Georgia are skyrocketing. They say laws in a neighboring state are one big reason Albany is seeing this drug increase.

Just two days ago ADDU drug agents found more than 600 illegal prescription pills on a suspect in Albany. Officials are not releasing the suspect's name, because federal authorities are now involved in the ongoing investigation. The Unit's Commander says this is becoming common.

 "It seems like pills have jumped into every dope deal we've done there lately, in some fashion or form," said A.D.D.U. Commander Major Bill Berry.   

Drug agents say whether they are busting suspects for selling marijuana or cocaine, pills like oxycodone, xanax, or hydrocodone are usually for sale too.

"Easy to hide, easy to conceal. Hard to detect. The dog doesn't pick up one these type things," Berry said.

And the profit is enormous. Dealers are selling pills on the street for $20, double or triple what they get them for. And drug agents say many dealers are getting the prescription drugs from pill mills in Florida.

"People are really going from here to there to Florida to those pain clinics and getting large, large quantities of it, and bringing it back here and putting them on the streets selling them at various locations. And just making a tremendous amount of money," Berry said.

And those powerful narcotic pills are highly addictive and potentially lethal.

The GBI reports the number of drug overdose deaths across the state involving only prescription drugs jumped from 508 in 2009 to 560 in 2010. They say that is a good barometer of the increase in prescription drug use. And drug agents say they fear this is just the tip of the iceberg in this drug crime. 

Officers say don't think it's just young people driving this fad of illegal prescription pills. That GBI report shows that people age 45 to 54 were the largest overdosing on prescription drugs.

South Georgia Pharmacists tell us they are responding to this criminal frenzy for prescription pills. Some pharmacists tell us they are not filling prescriptions for these powerful narcotics unless they know the doctor or the patient.