SPOKANE, Wash – In the wake of the DEA raid that broke up a $20 million dollar prescription drug ring, Spokane police say they make OxyContin busts in Spokane on the street level every week.
"Spokane is being flooded with pills. We've probably got more people on the radar now and more current investigations for pills than we do any other drug," an undercover drug agent told KHQ's Kelsey Watts.
One 30 mg pill sells for between $22-30 on the street. That's because they can be crushed or snorted, and are therefore the "pill of choice," while the larger 60 or 80 mg pills are now manufactured so they can't be broken down.
The #1 drug on the street used to be meth, the agent said, but in the last year or two it's turned to opiate pills. The reason is because the price of heroin has gone down, and people who are addicted to it often cross over to pills.
They get them by stealing prescription pads and going to different pharmacies, buying them from patients who have leftovers, or stealing them.
"There are whole criminal enterprises that are gathering pills in California and shipping them up here because in California they're selling for $7-10 dollars, but they're selling for $25-30 dollars here, so there's a lot of money to be made," the agent said.
Now that the DEA bust has been made, police are warning local pharmacies that there may be an uptick in robberies as people who are hooked look for another source of the drug. There is reward money being offered for information that leads to the arrest of such suspects.
"It isn't just your druggers who are running around trying to take OxyConton, it could be someone who could be just like your neighbor, a normal person, who is exposed to it legitimately then becomes addicted," said Spokane Police Captain Frank Scalise.
"I've been with Spokane PD for almost 20 years and I'm pretty comfortable saying I've not found too many criminals who only do one crime ever, and who only do one kind of crime ever. They tend to multi-task in that department. They tend to do whatever crime is the greatest opportunity."