PORT RICHEY — A UPS employee has been arrested on charges he stole 14 packages of oxycodone from a UPS warehouse and sold the 30-milligram pills on the street.
According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, John Concannon, 30, confessed to stealing 10,400 oxycodone pills destined for pharmacies from June 2008 through April. That's the equivalent of 104 bottles, which Concannon told detectives he sold for $600 apiece.
Oxycodone is a slow-release painkiller, but when crushed, snorted or injected, it can create a heroinlike high. Oxycodone is the active ingredient in OxyContin and other painkillers such as Percocet.
More than 2,000 Floridians have died of overdoses of oxycodone from 2001 to 2008, according to a Times analysis. Evidence of abuse can be seen in the news throughout the Tampa Bay area — in pharmacy robberies, arrests for prescription fraud, doctor shopping, trafficking, possessing, using.
"There is no lack of people who want to illegally obtain those drugs," said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll.
Concannon's arrest — his first in Florida — marks one of the largest pill trafficking busts in Pasco County history, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Detectives who obtained a warrant to search Concannon's home at 7824 Burnham Drive in Port Richey found 138 grams of marijuana, 10 vials of steroids, 181 pills of alprazolam (Xanax) and $1,058, the Sheriff's Office said.
"We didn't find any of the oxycodone pills," Doll said.
Concannon told authorities he is addicted to oxycodone and kept some of the pills for his personal use, according to his arrest report.
Concannon worked as a loader at the UPS warehouse at 6834 Industrial Drive in Port Richey.
Dan McMackin, a spokesman for UPS, said Concannon was a part-time package handler who began as a seasonal hire during the holiday season in 2004 and became a permanent part-time hire in 2005. McMackin said those jobs are usually 20 to 25 hours a week.
Concannon was fired upon his arrest, McMackin said.
Security members of UPS began the investigation into the missing boxes of drugs and contacted authorities, though neither McMackin nor Doll would say what tipped them off in the first place, saying the investigation is ongoing.
"They want to see this case to the end," McMackin said.
McMackin said all thefts were from one pharmaceutical company.
He said UPS ships about 15 million packages a day and is the second-largest employer in the United States. With the high volume of crimes and abuse associated with oxycodone and other prescription drugs, McMackin said security is a huge issue with UPS.
"We've got things in place to protect our folks," McMackin said. He wouldn't discuss what those security measures are, as to not tip off potential thieves.
Concannon was charged Wednesday with one count of trafficking in a controlled substance. He was released Friday from the Land O'Lakes jail on $15,000 bail.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.