Eleven people have been collared in the latest undercover drug operation in which agents bought drugs ranging from meth to morphine.
The indictments, which were rendered by the Warren County grand jury, came after drug buys were made by an undercover agent and those buys recorded by McMinnville Police Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Department, or the District Attorney’s office.
The drug buys during this undercover operation were almost completely pain medications with the exception of one meth buy and one purchase of diazepam, which is an anti-anxiety drug. The pain medicine bought by the undercover agent included Dihydrocodenone, morphine, and Oxycodone.
Those arrested were Allen Lee Beals, Major David Keller, Christy Lynn Hayes, Mary Carleen Lawson, Rhonda Ellen Nunley, Terra Nadean Rippe, Billy Don George, Patricia Carol Brady, Leanna Valvida, Rita Yvette Dodson, and Patrick Edward Nevin.
McMinnville narcotics investigator Tony Jenkins says addictions to pain medication are becoming more problematic.
“We’re getting a lot more people with pills and much of that has to do with availability,” said Jenkins. “You have people with a legitimate prescription who have pills at the end of the month and they’re either selling them to a clearing house or they’re selling them themselves because everybody knows you can make money.”
Jenkins said a clearing house is a person who looks to buy extra prescription pills for a set price, maybe $5 a pill, to resell them for $7 a pill.
Jenkins said with an even 100 meth labs busted in Warren County in 2010, he expected to see a downward trend with that drug because so many meth offenders were taken off the street. He said the switch to pills is a natural progression.
“There’s a pill out there to give you any type of high you want,” Jenkins said. “And it all comes out of a pharmacy. You can’t make it at home. This gives pills consistency. You don’t have to worry about getting a good batch of meth or a bad batch. Pills are all going to be the same quality. You know what you’re getting.”
While Jenkins doesn’t work closely in the schools, he says prescription drug use is rising among students.
“It’s absolutely trickling down into the schools,” said Jenkins. “They can get in granny’s medicine cabinet and grab a few here and there and it’s never missed.”