Reported by Victor O.
In recent weeks, an upsurge in the availability of prescription drugs on Baltimore’s streets has been noticed. City police are now attributing this to the looting of pharmacies witnessed during the riots that followed the death of Freddie Gray in April.
Law enforcement officials are reportedly trying to track down and recover numerous thousands of prescription drugs that were looted from more than two dozen pharmacies in Baltimore during the unrest. Prescription drugs such as Oxycontin and Percocet were looted from 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics during the city riots, according to Rolling Out.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said there is a threat of more violence in the city due to possible effects of having the looted drugs in the wrong hands — these effects are already being seen in the increased crime rate.
“There [are] enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” Batts said on Wednesday. “That amount of drugs has thrown off the balance on the streets of Baltimore.”
More than 175,000 doses of prescription drugs were reportedly stolen during the riots. Rolling Out reports that the amount of drugs stolen might even be higher because many of the affected drugstores are still counting their losses from the riots.
Batts revealed that the city police and the Drug Enforcement Administration are working together to recover these drugs.
Probably due to the looted prescription drugs, a spike was noticed in the crime rate in Baltimore last month. With 35 homicides recorded, May was described as the most violent month in the city since 1999. A minimum of 28 people were reportedly shot during the Memorial Day weekend alone.
Batts suggested that increased violence may be as a result of rival gangs trying to assume control of stolen prescription drugs.
Another worrisome dimension to the pharmacy looting is possible identity theft and fraud. This is because some of the stolen prescription drugs bore the names of patients, along with their addresses and names of the drugs. Dubious individuals can use this information to fill prescriptions illegally and also commit other forms of fraud.
Federal laws require pharmacies to notify clients of possible personal data breaches within 60 days. Some of the affected drugstores have started doing that.
Rite Aid has brought on risk management company Kroll to help reduce negative effects of the data breaches. Concerned customers can reach Kroll at 1-855-294-2551 or call Rite Aid at 1-800-RITE-AID.