Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas narcotics detectives conducting oxycodone drug ring roundup

PINELLAS PARK — Authorities on Wednesday rounded up 21 suspects in a multitiered oxycodone trafficking scheme.

Narcotics detectives from the Pinellas Sheriff's Office, Clearwater Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the roundup, dubbed "Operation Oxy-Con."

The operation, which is targeting 52 suspects with 122 charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and trafficking in a controlled substance, began in December. Those not arrested Wednesday will be sought in the coming days.

The suspects are part of a Pinellas prescription drug ring that's gotten its hands on about 30,000 pills and made about $300,000 since November, sheriff's officials said.

"This is huge," said Pinellas Lt. Robert Alfonso, who said the bust is important in the fight against rising prescription drug abuse. "This is the new heroin. This is the new cocaine. It really is to that magnitude in Pinellas County."

Deputies got a tip about the operation months ago after a fraudulent oxycodone prescription was passed at a pharmacy, sheriff's officials said. Alfonso said the organization, which has been most active in central Pinellas, operated with three levels.

The group's top leaders coordinated everything and printed fake prescriptions from their home computers. Under them were "recruiters," who would find "runners" to take fake prescriptions into a pharmacy. Once they got the pills, they'd turn them over to the recruiters, who would give them cash or let them keep some of the pills. The bounty of the pills would be split between the recruiters and the top leaders to be sold on the street.

The fake prescriptions went unnoticed, Alfonso said, because the leaders used real doctors' names but replaced phone numbers with their own cell phone numbers. So if a pharmacist tried to verify a prescription, he was routed to someone in the drug ring, not a real doctor's office.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at (727) 893-8643 or kstanley@sptimes.com.

Pinellas narcotics detectives conducting oxycodone drug ring roundup 08/26/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 27, 2009 6:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas deputies go door-to-door at dawn before arrest unlicensed contractors

    Crime

    Pinellas County deputies have never conducted a widespread operation to arrest suspects who use hammers, saws and promises of majestic craftsmanship to swindle homeowners out of thousands of dollars.

    That changed Tuesday.

    Pinellas Sheriff deputies J. Short, left, and T. Festa, right, arrest suspect Randy Ronchi, center, in Largo early Tuesday, as part of a joint roundup of unlicensed contractors. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  2. New Florida driver's licenses available in Tampa Bay

    State Roundup

    The new Florida IDs are beginning to roll out across the state, with some locations in Tampa Bay already carrying the cards.

    The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced it will begin to issue the new Florida driver license and ID card this month in various locations across the state. [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles]
  3. Come on down, former 'Price Is Right' announcer Rich Fields; you're the new afternoon DJ on Q105

    Blogs

    There's a new afternoon drive host on classic hits radio station WRBQ-FM, better known as "Q105."

  4. From the food editor: Five things I'm enjoying in the food world right now

    Cooking

    Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:

    Espresso Sea Salt Cookie Sandwiches with a cooked buttercream frosting, from St. Petersburg home bakery Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. Photo by Jennifer Jacobs.
  5. In Syria's Raqqa, IS makes last stand at city's stadium

    World

    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State group in Syria captured the city hospital in Raqqa on Tuesday, leaving IS militants holed up at the local stadium, their last stand in the fight over what was once the extremists' de facto capital.

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]