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Traffickers targeting homeless as drug mules to obtain prescription drugs

(WSAZ)
Published: Nov. 22, 2019 at 9:42 PM CST
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A quick-thinking pharmacist helped to crack a case of prescription fraud. Then the case grew into something bigger, human trafficking.

This prescription fraud case relied on the work of the homeless. They were given a script and a prescription.

They got away with it for a while.

Opioids are deadly when abused and on the rise, making the prescription fraud even worse.

Bill Stockman is with the DEA. He says in August the DEA and other partners confiscated more than 6,000 Oxycodone pills.

“That is what we caught, how many did they pass and get away with? A lot more,” said Stockman.

What makes this case so unique? Three recruiters targeted the homeless.

Stockman describes how the group went to homeless shelters looking for prescription drug mules. Their requirement was for them to have a public ID card.

“The homeless they would solicit would get cash,” said Stockman.

For every prescription that was filled, they were paid $100. If the prescription wasn’t filled, they were docked $50 from their next attempt. Fail enough times, and they could owe their traffickers money.

They were using fake scripts.

“They looked authentic, they were pretty true to the format and containing information of prescriptions that you would legitimately get from the doctor,” said Stockman.

It was a Hy-Vee pharmacy where one of the victims was busted. A pharmacist noticed something was wrong with the script.

“One oddity about the case was these prescriptions were for oxycodone for 30 mg, a 30 mg isn’t a common dose,” said Stockman.

There’s a pretty penny to be made by these recruiters. The street value for the 6,000 pills that were obtained is $180,000.

A problem that also contributes to overdoses and the opioid crisis.

The two homeless people, in this case, were arrested and charged. Their traffickers were sentenced between 4 to 10 years.

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