TAMPA — After weeks of undercover work, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has produced 135 arrests or warrants that target the buyers and sellers of illicit prescription drugs.
"Operation Side Effects" also netted more than 5,000 pills of Xanax, oxycodone and other narcotic prescriptions, deputies said.
Cocaine was once the main killer in overdose-related deaths, but prescription drugs have taken its place in Hillsborough and statewide, deputies said.
Detectives conducted undercover drug deals in parking lots and in streets across the county. Some occurred near pain clinics, where people arrive to obtain narcotic prescriptions.
Deputies said in some cases buyers traveled from out of state to Hillsborough County to buy drugs, with most buyers planning to return to their home states to sell them.
A single pill of oxycodone might cost $1 from a pharmacy, detectives said, but it could sell for up to $30 on the streets. Deputies said there are 73 registered pain clinics in the county's unincorporated areas, and other clinics may be operating outside of state control.