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Current Baltimore Violence Due to Drugs Stolen During Rioting, According to Top Cop

  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Drugs stolen from pharmacies during the April Baltimore riots are to blame for the city’s recent surge in violent crimes and killings, according to Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.

    Twenty-seven different pharmacies and two methadone clinics were looted in the riots that followed the death of Freddie Gray and led to the indictment of six police officers, FOX5 reported.

    “There are enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” Batts told reporters at a Wednesday press conference.

    Batts said the influx of new drugs is disturbing the balance on Baltimore streets between gangs and independent drug dealers.

    “Individuals are getting high to a greater degree and at a greater pace than any time before,” Batts said. “Criminals are selling those stolen drugs, there are turf wars happening, which are leading to violence and shootings in our city.”

    In May, 43 people were murdered in Baltimore, which made it the deadliest month in the city in over 40 years. In addition to the murders, there have been over 200 shootings in the city since January, which is about an 82 percent increase over the same time last year.

    Gary Tuggle, a special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Baltimore field office told WBAL TV gangs were specifically targeting pharmacies during the riots because the prescription drugs can be sold for huge sums on the street. According to Tuggle, a single 30-milligram tablet of Oxycontin, a powerful narcotic pain reliever, can sell for $30 on the street, where a bag of heroin will only go for around $10.

    With just 60 percent of the pharmacies that were robbed reporting so far, police say there are likely more than 175,000 different pills currently on the streets of Baltimore. That number could more than double, however, as more pharmacies continue to report what rioters stole from their stores.

    Some smaller pharmacies haven’t reported what was stolen from them yet because they don’t have the computer capabilities of the larger pharmacies for record keeping, and some of them had records destroyed in fires.

    By Josh Fatzick - Daily Caller/June 4, 2015
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. TheBigBadWolf
    Re: Current Baltimore Violence Due to Drugs Stolen During Rioting, According to Top C

    If I had a pharmacy there I d also try to scam my insurance.
    Plus the drugs money... Makes a good deal.

    And yes, I am being cynical.


    Somehow the cited police officer is not aware that masses of Prescription drugs in the streets mean prices making a big dive downwards?
    And we must not forget that the reason of the riots was not fueled by drugs.
    Typical semantics to connect the riots to something generally seen (thanks to their anti drug propaganda) as negative: Drugs.

    In the end a deeply racist try to cover the real reasons people think they have to produce somewhat chaotic events.
  2. senorlou
    Re: Current Baltimore Violence Due to Drugs Stolen During Rioting, According to Top C

    Just my opinion, but what happened in Baltimore is probably a lot more complicated than anyone like me could ever really grasp. You've got racism, mistrust of law enforcement, organized crime, street thugs, rebellious youth with a pretty bleak future, a prison system that needs reform, The Disappearance of decent paying JOBS for that community, and on and on. Now we have a demoralized police force who feel they are faced with an impossible situation losing control of those neighborhoods. Whether it is deliberate or not, I don't know. All I know is, I'm not about to give any solutions other than if the USA ever wanted this kind of crap to stop, they'd put these young people to work somehow. Our infrastructure is pretty dilapidated.

    As it is, Americans now believe that the government can't or shouldn't help anyone in any way, especially if they are poor and/or black/Latino. These cynical Americans are the first people to cry for government assistance in any time of crisis. Look at the banksters who were bailed out by the taxpayers in 2008. A lot of those assholes believe in the "free market" and "deregulation" bullshit even today. Help the people in these poor black neighborhoods get jobs? Why should they care? They got their money. Yes, this is probably really about money.

    Yes, they apparently went after the pharmacies because, like the old time bankrobber said - that's where the money is.
  3. Joe-(5-HTP)
    Re: Current Baltimore Violence Due to Drugs Stolen During Rioting, According to Top C

    Drugs being used as a scapegoat to redirect blame away from the police. What a surprise.

    Not that the claim makes sense in the first place, but pharmacy narcotics are usually sedatives.. so how does that lead to violence..

    It's a sad reflection on society that someone in a position of responsibility and authority can stand up and make such absurd claims.
  4. Bajeda
    Re: Current Baltimore Violence Due to Drugs Stolen During Rioting, According to Top C

    Apart from the perhaps unideal wording of the tag-line* I don't take issue with much in the article.

    *Drugs stolen from pharmacies during the April Baltimore riots are to blame for the city’s recent surge in violent crimes and killings, according to Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.

    Note that the article is not suggesting that the drug thefts are responsible for the riots. And this isn't the work of some opportunistic looters acting on a whim. It's most likely a well organized serious of heists by established criminal organizations, taking advantage of the chaos.

    TheBigBadWolf, the ambiguity seems to be the author's fault. I don't see anything misleading in the police officers' quotes, except for some ignorant but harmless hyperbole: “Individuals are getting high to a greater degree and at a greater pace than any time before,”

    Really, it would be more accurate to use the USA prefix and put this in the Justice & Law News section. This is really stretching the definition of propaganda.
  5. Bajeda
    Re: Current Baltimore Violence Due to Drugs Stolen During Rioting, According to Top C

    Nothing surprising here. Baltimore was one of the early casualties of aggressive war on drugs policing that disrupted the existing order by dismantling criminal organizations only to create a power vacuum and with it escalating cycles of violence that had the cops wishing for their old gangs back. I recall this exact same story from one who went on to join LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).

    Joe, it makes sense this would follow if there was indeed an influx of drugs on the order of magnitude described.

    As is well known Breaking Bad, gangs want you to "Stay out of my territory!"

    Seriously though, the gangs fiercely protect their supply lines and market share. If pilfered drugs allow a competitor or perhaps even a new entrant to the market to come in and undercut them on price (which they have less wiggle room on since they have to bring in from outside, with attendant costs) they will not only be losing immediate profits but also their vaunted share of the market upon which their future hinges. They will readily resort to violence to protect it, even those groups less willing in normal circumstances to do so in order to smooth things over with the cops.

    You don't see this kind of violence from junkies fighting one another. If anything they are probably smacked out as ever if heroin prices dropped further due to demand being shifted to all these pharms.

    No a 82% increase in shootings is attributable to the criminal groups battling for control of markets and territory - and perhaps trying to "exchange" ownership of all those stolen drugs - after a substantial distortion in drug supply shook up the status quo.

    Don't blame the cops. This is on the legislators. The policy of absolute zero-tolerance drug prohibition led to the creation of criminal enterprises lucrative enough to justify violence, whereas legitimate businesses tend not to take the risk. Also economic and educational policies that leave disaffected youths with no meaningful job prospects outside of crime, and create a self-perpetuating cycle of poverty.
  6. TheBigBadWolf
    Re: Current Baltimore Violence Due to Drugs Stolen During Rioting, According to Top C

    I am blaming The cops for uttering stuff like that The drugs thatcwere stolen fuel The riots. As Joe pointed out they rather would be nodding out than rioting.
    Police officials are lying because they eant to veil the role they themselves played in making The situation one with mich aggression.
    Of coirse the reasons for The riots are to be sought for in the legislative sector, not in Law Enforcement.
    But there are several different ways to enforce The law.
    And for The coice of the (obvioualy) wrong ones LE actually ARE carrying responsibility.

    The article is citing LE pfficials trying to make abstruse claims.
    Therefore I find The prefix Propaganda very well chosen

  7. Bajeda
    Re: Current Baltimore Violence Due to Drugs Stolen During Rioting, According to Top C

    BigBadWolf, I agree that it is disingenuous and manipulative to attribute the cause of the riots to these thefts. However, I don't see that the police are saying that, at least not in this article. This article actually has very little to say about the riots, other than stating that the robberies took place while they were ongoing. And they clearly identify criminal gangs and independent drug dealers as the culprits. I don't see them painting all the rioters - to say nothing of the non-violent protestors - as being involved in this at the time or in the aftermath, though the short article and minimal explanation makes it easy to project one's personal sentiments.

    The article doesn't comment on the cause for the riots or the police behaviour that incited them, and so neither do I. What the article does discuss is law enforcement's assertion that the influx of drugs has disrupted the local drug markets and sparked a violent turf war. Given the city's past history and dynamics of similar criminal eco-systems (see Chicago, Philly, NY, LA, broad swathes of Mexico and Central America) I would think this a reasonable explanation for the specific types of violence they are describing, at the levels they are describing, unless there is evidence to suggest that the increase in shootings can be attributed to another cause.

    And since you refer to Joe's comment about people being too nodded out to riot I want to reiterate:
    * The article is not talking about the rioters, it doesn't even refer to a subset of them. It simply states that robberies took place "at the same time" as the riots were occurring
    * The article is not suggesting that either the rioters or your typical drug user are responsible for the rise in violence. It is the criminal gangs fighting turf wars that are responsible.​
  8. Joe-(5-HTP)
    Re: Current Baltimore Violence Due to Drugs Stolen During Rioting, According to Top C

    The legislaters are more to blame it's true, however it's possible for cops to have a more enlightened view than these cops apparently have, as seen with organizations like LEAP, so they still hold some responsibility.

    You are right about the gangs causing the violence not the users, didn't think of that. Though indeed we agree overall since the gangs are caused by the drug laws.
  9. TheBigBadWolf
    Re: Current Baltimore Violence Due to Drugs Stolen During Rioting, According to Top C

    It's sad that LE officials don't seem.to think much and that journalists make "news" out of it with even less thinking.
    But sadly attention span of the normal reader is Two minutes per article so they can't go very much deeper without their article is left unread, more so when people read their news on PC and tablets.
    Actual newspaper (paper edition) could get more attention from their trades.

    I'm digressing,
    There would be much to say about riots and what place police takes in it, that in a riot situation shops get looted (and of course pharmacies are shops) is also quite normal. That it was organized "pharmacy looting" made by gang-sters has still to be proven.

  10. RoboCodeine7610
    DEA: Prescription drugs stolen in Baltimore flooding the streets

    (CNN)The open-air drug markets of Baltimore are flush with new product this summer. The source, at least in part, is more than 30 pharmacies and clinics looted in riots following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.


    More than 175,000 doses of opiates and other prescription drugs were stolen and are now on the streets, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Enough Oxycodone, Suboxone, Morphine, Fentanyl and other drugs says the DEA to keep the city's drug users high for a year
    READ: Report: Autopsy shows Freddie Gray suffered "high-energy injury"

    In a city with a large heroin-addicted market, the influx of looted drugs is adding to the problems facing police and city officials already struggling to deal with a sharp rise in shootings and murders. Law enforcement officials believe the new flow of prescription pills will breed new addicts and more violence. Many of those addicts will turn to cheaper heroin from the open drug markets later.

    In response to the city's plea for help, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies are seeking to prosecute the leaders of gang and drug dealing organizations.

    Gary Tuggle, who grew up in Baltimore's east side and worked as a Baltimore cop, says his agency has drawn a list of potential suspects. Before taking over the agency's Philadelphia office, Tuggle led the DEA's efforts in Baltimore. He allowed CNN to tag along for a first-hand view of the drug markets and his agency's effort to thwart them.

    Back when Tuggle was a Baltimore police officer more than a decade ago, he recalls "the street purity of heroin was 2-5%. Today we are seeing purity levels up to 80-85% and then some cases, a kilo of heroin would cost $140-160,000. Today you can get it for between $65 and $70,000 so you see the economics of it when you have a level of supply and level of demand that uses that inventory its literally bringing the cost down and purity levels up."

    According to the DEA, prescription opiates can go for as much as one dollar per milligram and it doesn't take long for users to run out of money to support their prescription habit, eventually turning to the imported black tar heroin from Mexico or powder heroin from Asia, which is much stronger and cheaper.

    In the neighborhoods surrounding where Freddie Gray was initially arrested, more vacant homes are appearing, more shops are closing, which means "the drug dealers have the corners for themselves," according to Tuggle.

    According to the DEA, the influx of drugs on the streets is inflaming turf wars between gangs and independent drug dealers who are competing for territory, which is vital to a drug dealer's revenue stream.

    "In some cases you have the gangs taxing other gangs or independent drug dealers," Tuggle says. Other times, gangs feel their territory is being threatened, which leads to a disruption in the balance of power and "that's only going to lead to violence."

    READ: Adam's story: When prescription drugs are deadly

    That partly, police say, explains the 42 murders in May, Baltimore's deadliest month in 15 years.

    Signs of the fresh supply of drugs are visible, Tuggle tells CNN during a ride past Baltimore's heaviest drug-trafficked sections.

    The alleys -- or "dips" as they are known to law enforcement -- where most of the deals used to go down are largely empty. Because of the thinner police presence in the area, they are free to operate in the open.

    In one neighborhood of row-houses about two miles from the tourist attractions of the Inner Harbor neighborhood, it's not long before cars come to a stop in front of two pedestrians engaged in an alleged drug deal in the middle of the road.

    "Twenty-five years ago when I grew up here, you didn't see open air drug deals," Tuggle said. "That was something you didn't see, you had to go into the alleys to find those deals. Today as you've seen, it happens in the open."

    In some areas, the presence of the DEA agents in unmarked cars are quickly noticed.

    "Five-O," some called out. Lookouts immediately alerted the dealers and customers to the presence of law enforcement. Some were kids, agents said, as young as 10 years old paid $50-$100 a day to ride their bikes on corners and whistle at the first sight of police or suspicious, unmarked cars.

    Agents say drug users know which parts of town are best for heroin or other drugs: from the Sandtown area, with a booming heroin market, to the streets outside the historic Lexington Market in downtown, where prescription opiates have shown up, according to agents. Agents say the drug users are easy to pick out because of their tell-tale "nod," some leaning over precariously without falling over during their high.

    Outside a methadone clinic, teeming by 8 a.m., the streets and alleys were buzzing. Agents say at least some in the crowd were dealers and users either attempting to ween themselves off the opiates, or immediately selling daily methadone dose for a quick buck to spend on more heroin.

    Tuggle says that law-abiding residents of areas most affected by the drug dealing are victims of drug users who come from all over the region. The DEA is now circulating pictures of up to 70 individuals they say are directly responsible for the surplus of looted drugs.

    "At the end of the day these communities have very, very decent people, hardworking people who want to work and educate their families and support their families. But at the end of the day you would see what I call piranha. A lot of these people dealing in these neighborhoods are not from these neighborhoods. Some of them have nice homes in the suburbs or they live in high rise apartment sin downtown Baltimore. So they come into these communities to take advantage of these communities."

    By Wesley Bruer and Evan Perez, CNN
    June 25, 2015
  11. attackedbyamonster
    Re: Current Baltimore Violence Due to Drugs Stolen During Rioting, According to Top C

    IMO the war on drugs is as useful and productive as teaching a mouse to say "Here kitty kitty kitty. Why are they even still claimming to beable to even dent this?. The use of drugs as multiplied by a factor of about 1,000 since it began. I wish they would admit defeat and just legalize it so that proper revenue would be made.Not to mention the jobs it would create.If Baltimore would legalize drugs i betcha anything there wouldn't be 43 murders in a single month (Pardon me if i misread that part). It is also IMO that many people wouldn't do them near as much or in ssuc numbers if it were legalized.I remember hating the smell,taste and even thought of cigarettes,Until I was forbidden to smoke by my parents. Once again thank you in advance of readding my 2 cents.
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