TARPON SPRINGS — A search for an escaped prisoner led police to uncover an elaborate three-county operation designed to get prescription drugs, according to court documents.
Details about the operation came to light in a search warrant filed in Pinellas County last week.
According to the warrant, Tarpon Springs police went to a motel on U.S. 19 in May after they received information that an escaped prisoner had just made a phone call from that location.
Officers didn't find the prisoner, but they did find Elizabeth L. Wright of Land O'Lakes, who agreed to let officers search her room.
Police said they found printing tools, prescription paper, nearly two dozen driver's licenses, several Social Security cards, a doctor's signature stamp and numerous fraudulent prescriptions.
Wright, 47, was arrested on charges of trafficking in oxycodone and several counts of prescription drug possession. She was also arrested on a Pasco County warrant for scheming to defraud stemming from a separate narcotics investigation in that county, according to the search warrant.
Wright was released from the Pinellas County Jail after posting bail and is awaiting trial.
On Friday, officers got permission from a circuit judge to examine two computers and three cell phones they seized from Wright when she was arrested.
Tarpon Springs police said in the warrant they have reason to believe Wright was creating fake prescriptions and disseminating them to people she had recruited. The recruits would then take the prescriptions, mostly for oxycodone, to local pharmacies to be filled, according to the warrant.
While investigating, Tarpon Springs police met with narcotics detectives from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, who said two jail inmates admitted being part of the scam.
According to the search warrant, one man said he allowed Wright to use his driver's license to make out fraudulent prescriptions. The other inmate said he helped Wright pass fake oxycodone scrips in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties. The second inmate said Wright made the prescriptions on a computer and that he had gone to Wright's home "numerous times" to pick up the prescriptions and pass them out to "runners" to have them filled, the warrant shows.
The search warrant doesn't give details about the escaped prisoner and whether he or she was eventually located. Tarpon Springs police spokeswoman Capt. Barb Templeton said she believes the person was found, but she was out of the office and could not confirm that Wednesday afternoon.