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Location: Staten Island

PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:24 pm    Post subject: SCHUMER ANNOUNCES PLAN TO CRACK DOWN ON DRUGS ON SI
From Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:00 am to Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:59 am (included)
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March 21, 2011


With Major SI Prescription Drug Ring Bust and New Data Showing Staten Island Leads the City in Prescription Drug Abuse, Staten Island is at the Epicenter of Growing Prescription Drug Crisis

SI Ring Was Uncovered When Drug Runners Robbed Local Pharmacies At Gunpoint; Schumer Legislation Would Crack-Down on Pharma-Theft By Drug Rings That Pedal Across State Lines

Schumer: By Combating Pharma-Theft, We Can Go a Long Way Towards Cutting Off the Supply Chain That Puts Illegal Prescription Drugs on Our Streets

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he is introducing legislation to crack down on the theft of prescription drugs and medical devices that fuel crime and a black market for addiction in Staten Island and throughout the country. The Senator’s call comes in the wake of new data that shows Staten Island has the worst prescription drug crisis in New York City, and second worst of all counties in New York State. It also comes on the heels of a major drug bust that shut down a $1 million a year oxycodone ring on Staten Island that was uncovered when one of the drug runners was arrested for holding up a string of local pharmacies. Schumer said that examples of pharma-theft like this one – through armed robbery, hijacking of pharmaceutical delivery trucks or other forms of theft – has skyrocketed around the country in recent years and created a robust supply chain that puts more and more prescription drugs on the street. Schumer said that the legislation would help crack down on the sophisticated prescription drug theft rings that pedal drugs across state lines, and would go a long way towards combating the prescription drug crisis plaguing Staten Island.

“This latest bust is yet another example of the prescription drug epidemic that is sweeping the country and hitting Staten Island especially hard,” said Schumer. “All too often, drugs that end up on our streets are either stolen or obtained by doctor shopping, creating a robust supply chain that puts more and more prescription drugs in our neighborhoods. The legislation I am introducing provides for enhanced sentencing and additional tools for law enforcement to crackdown on criminals peddling prescription drugs and deter others from following suit.”

Assemblyman Michael Cusick said, “I’m pleased that Senator Schumer has joined the fight to combat the growing prescription drug crisis in New York. The scourge of prescription drug abuse has been especially evident on Staten Island; our borough leads all of New York City in narcotic prescriptions. The statistics on this matter are simply startling. I believe that Senator Schumer’s legislation, along with my recently introduced bills in the Assembly, will provide a strong deterrent against involvement in the prescription drug trade in New York.”

"I applaud the effort of Sen. Schumer and his colleagues," said Staten Island District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan Jr. "Our recent break up of a massive illicit oxycodone ring in Staten Island is proof positive that illegal sales of prescription drugs has become a highly organized, and highly dangerous enterprise."

Staten Island is at the epicenter of a prescription drug abuse epidemic sweeping the country. According to testimony from New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, the number of prescriptions for oxycodone citywide has doubled in the last three years, and enough prescriptions were written for oxycodone and Vicodin in Staten Island to supply 33% of the borough’s residents with pills – making Staten Island by far the per-capita leader in New York City. Last year, the number of oxycodone prescriptions filed in Staten Island represented 28% of the borough’s population on a per-capita basis. While it impossible to know exactly how many prescriptions are written for legitimate medical illnesses, doctors and counselors agree that the number of prescriptions filled far outruns the number of legitimate prescriptions.

These latest figures were released just days before law enforcement officials busted a 31-member Staten Island drug ring that raked in $1 million a year in oxycodone sales and sold nearly 43,000 pills through 317 fake prescriptions forged from stolen prescription pads between June 2009 and June 2010. The leaders of the ring, who ran the operation out of an ice-cream truck, recruited dozens of people, mostly from Staten Island, as “drug-runners” to fill the prescriptions at local pharmacies in exchange for cash or pills. The ring was only uncovered when one of the runners was arrested in a string of gunpoint robberies of local pharmacies.

The heavy demand for prescription drugs is often fed by pharmaceutical theft, which, whether it takes the form of robbery of pharmacies, hijacking of pharmaceutical delivery trucks or other forms of theft, is a growing concern for law enforcement officials nationwide. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), the amount of Controlled Prescription Drugs (CPDs) stolen in armed robberies doubled from more than 500,000 milliliters to nearly 1.1 million in 2007, while the amount lost in transit increased from more than 1.4 million milliliters in 2003 to more than 2.5 million in 2007. According to the US Division of Freightwatch International, last year $184 million worth of prescription drugs were stolen in the U.S., a 350% increase from 2007. Finally, since 2007 over 1800 pharmacies have been robbed. The crime wave has overwhelmed local law enforcement and drawn the attention of the federal authorities, but federal penalties for pharmacy theft are lenient and do not provide federal law enforcement with all the tools they need.

Pharmaceutical theft not only leads to more addictive and illegal pain killers on our streets, it also puts in jeopardy the health of a patient who unwittingly uses these drugs after they end up on the black market or find their way back into pharmacies or hospitals. Stolen prescription drugs may end up in the hands of counterfeiters who can re-label or replace their contents with other ingredients, and stolen infant formula that ends up on the black market can also endanger the health and well-being of newborns.

While cities and states can monitor and arrest local drug trafficking rings like the one recently busted on Staten Island, they lack can lack the resources to dismantle rings that operate across state lines. Schumer’s legislation would increase the federals authorities’ ability to crack down on interstate drug rings by combating theft along every point of the supply chain, from the warehouse to the delivery truck to the pharmacy.

Specifically, Schumer’s legislation would:

· Increase sentences for robbing pharmacies of controlled substances;

· Increase sentences for the theft of medical products and the transportation and storage of stolen medical products, and it would apply that increase to each current section of federal law that could be used by prosecutors to charge such crimes;

· Enhance penalties for stolen medical product “fences,” including individuals and organizations who knowingly obtain stolen products for resale into the supply chain;

· Increase sentences when harm occurs or trust is broken – in other words, where the defendant is employed by an organization in the supply chain or where there was a death as the result of ingestion of a stolen substance;

· Provide for civil penalties and forfeiture of ill-gotten gains derived from medical product theft.
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