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27 NEWSFIRST Investigates: The Prescription Pill Pipeline

By: Dave Spencer Email
By: Dave Spencer Email

It's being called a potent problem in Kentucky, one the state police say they're having trouble getting a handle on.

A prescription pill pipeline from Florida up I-75 to Kentucky.

Now something is finally being done to curb the "drug tourists" as they are often called.

A new law to keep tabs on Florida is already making a difference in Kentucky.

One look in Kentucky jail cells and the problem becomes obvious.

27 NEWSFIRST spoke with multiple people locked up in the Montgomery County jail for drug trafficking.

Michael Lyman was one of those people.

"They got me on Methadone."

He says, "If you know people you can get it, you know what I mean, you can get anything you want."

Trooper David Jude with the Kentucky State Police says, "It seems over the past five to ten years were starting to see prescription pills pick up."

He says one problems is there are different laws for different states.

"It's O.K. to go out of state and see a doctor."

That's exactly what another Montgomery County inmate, Tom Mazur, says he did.

Saying for over a year he tried to get into a pain clinic in Kentucky. So he finally took his problems down south.

"Do I go down to Florida and get my pain medicine? Yes I can, I do because I can't get it here."

In Florida he says there is no problem.

"I get more than any doctor in Kentucky would have prescribed me."

But Jude say it's a big problem for the police. "The problem we are seeing is they are coming back into Kentucky and selling those prescriptions."

In fact the trafficking of pills from Florida up to Kentucky has become so popular it even has a nickname, the prescription pill pipeline.

Probably because the reward outweighs the risk. According to a Miami newspaper, a dealer can get an Oxycontin pill for $3 to $6 at a pain clinic, bring it up to Kentucky and sell the same pill for $30.

Jude says, "that's trafficking, it's illegal in Kentucky."

The fact that it's happening is no secret, but he says enforcement can be tricky. He says there usually more than one bad guy involved. The drug dealer for one, also a middle man, and sometimes they use a middle man.

A story backed up Mazur, "Some of the other ones (doctors) are there just for plain money."

Dr. Roger Browne, from Coral Gables, Florida, was sentenced to 30 months in jail after admitting to handing out illegal prescriptions.

Federal agents found medical files on nearly 500 Kentucky patients. The problem there, no system in place to track sales of prescription medicine.

Just last week Florida lawmakers took a step to close the pipeline. They agreed to start an electronic drug monitoring system.

Lt. Governor Daniel Mongiardo says if the Florida Governor signs the bill into law Kentucky will provide the software to track the prescriptions handed out in the state.


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