Stolen Prescription Drugs May Be Causing More Violence in Baltimore
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A recent surge in violence in Baltimore may be caused by hundreds of thousands of prescription drugs which were stolen during riots over the death of Freddie Gray.
An estimated 175,000 doses of prescription drugs were stolen from at least 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics during the April and May riots, said Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts yesterday. He believes the drugs have been circulating throughout the city, leading to turf wars and violence surrounding the drugs’ illegal resales. Officials are also worried that the names and addresses found on the drugs’ labels could potentially lead to identity fraud.
The protests began on April 27 after Freddie Gray was killed in police custody from a severe spinal injury, sparking riots throughout Baltimore and a rise in violent crime. There were 43 homicides in the city last month, the highest number since 1978.
Though the riots have subsided, the city has seen a continued spike in violent crime. Peter Moskos, a John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor, says the stolen prescription drugs could play a role in elevated crime levels. But he believes the problem is more likely due to police being reluctant to make arrests out of fear that they’ll be charged for improper use of force. Arrests have decreased significantly in Baltimore after six officers were indicted in Gray’s death.
“[The stolen drugs] could create more robberies,” said Moskos. “That’s certainly possible, but my guess is it doesn’t really matter.”