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Hillsborough County Sheriff’s detectives target the buyers and sellers of illicit prescription drugs.
Operation Side Effects.pdf
For weeks Hillsborough County Sheriff’s detectives were undercover and targeting the buyers and sellers of illicit prescription drugs during Operation Side Effects.
So far, the operation has produced 135 arrests or warrants. Detectives seized more than 5,000 pills of oxycodone, Xanax and other narcotic prescriptions, and longer term investigations are under way.
Prescription drug-related overdose deaths are on the rise in Hillsborough County and the state of Florida. Cocaine was once the main killer in overdose cases, but no more. Prescription drugs peddled on the streets for profit or to fuel addiction is a growing problem.
Operation Side Effects is an ongoing effort to reduce the amount of illicit prescription drugs in our communities. Detectives from the Special Investigations Division conducted undercover deals for pills in parking lots and on the streets. Some deals occurred near pain clinics in the county, where patients arrive to obtain a prescription for a narcotic. In some cases, buyers traveled from out of state to Hillsborough County to take part in this lucrative drug trade. Most buyers were intent on returning home to sell the pills for profit. For example, a single dose of oxycodone, which a pharmacy might sell for $1 per pill, will bring up to $30 a pill on the streets.
Operation Side Effects is battling the problem on several fronts. We are arresting the buyers who visit area pain clinics to obtain pills for illegal purposes. Investigations continue into the underground network of prescription writing fraud, and efforts are under way to craft legislation regarding pain clinics in our county. Currently, there are 73 registered pain clinics in unincorporated Hillsborough County, and there may be others operating outside of state control. HCSO is coordinating with the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners to develop an ordinance dictating more control and accountability of pain clinics.