WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | News

Tighter Ky. Regs Force Interstate Drug Smuggling

FRANKFORT, KY -- Changes in how Kentucky tracks narcotics prescriptions have made it harder for drug dealers and addicts to amass large amounts of pills such as OxyContin from sources inside the state, so they are traveling far to skirt the law, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Sunday edition.

It's about 11 hours, one way, from the Floyd County area to Philadelphia. But for years, people often made the trip to get a prescription for pain pills from a doctor there, then filled the order at a pharmacy nearby, police said.

Upward of 180 people went, some once and some many times, bringing back 50,000 methadone tablets to Eastern Kentucky to sell and abuse; the drug ring also smuggled 150,000 pain pills from Michigan, according to police and court documents, reports the Herald-Leader.

The case is one of several ongoing investigations that point to a marked shift in the diversion of legal prescription drugs for illegal sale in Kentucky.

Changes in how Kentucky tracks narcotics prescriptions have made it harder for drug dealers and addicts to amass large amounts of pills such as OxyContin from sources inside the state.

So increasingly in recent years, Kentuckians have traveled to adjoining states, as well as Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, obtaining hundreds of thousands of pills — worth millions of dollars — to bring home and sell, according to police, the Herald-Leader reports.

Some of the pills come from drug dealers. Some come through prescriptions from doctors who are dirty, or at least not very discerning.

”It's our No. 1 problem ­— people importing pharmaceuticals into this region,“ said Dan Smoot, law enforcement director for Operation UNITE, which covers 29 counties in Eastern and Southern Kentucky.

The state's prescription-monitoring system, known by the acronym KASPER (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting), along with enforcement efforts by police and prosecutors, have combined to push people out of state to look for prescriptions, the newspaper reports.

People seeking pills to sell illegally know that there's a KASPER record when a doctor writes them a prescription, and when a pharmacy fills it. Many drug seekers go out of state to avoid that scrutiny, police said.

”That's one of the ways the drug organizations circumvent KASPER,“ said Randy Hunter, a state police detective, reports the newspaper.

Doctors use the system to spot people who try to get prescriptions from several practitioners, which discourages ”doctor-shopping.“

Efforts to evade the reporting system figure in one of the largest pill cases of its kind in the eastern half of the state, the case in which people traveled to Philadelphia, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Copyright-The Lexington Herald-Leader
www.kentucky.com


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