Teenaged OxyContin Kingpin Pens Eye-Opening Memoir

By Paul Fuhr 11/08/17

Generation Oxy: From High School Wrestlers to Pain Pill Kingpins reveals how five high school friends created an OxyContin empire and how it crumbled.

Douglas Dodd in his teen years
Douglas Dodd in his teen years Photo via YouTube

From real-life drug kingpins like Pablo Escobar to fictional ones like Breaking Bad’s Walter White, drug kingpins have long been sensationalized in news headlines as much as they’ve been celebrated in pop culture. Still, Tampa-born teenager Douglas Dodd never expected to breathe the same rarefied air of Escobar and White, let alone survive to tell the tale. With the help of his high school wrestling team buddies, Dodd built an unlikely OxyContin empire that eventually brought in $40,000 a month.

Now, years after his 2009 arrest and the subsequent end of his operation, Dodd has written a memoir called Generation Oxy: From High School Wrestlers to Pain Pill Kingpins. The book, which details how Dodd and his friends expanded a tiny business into a complex network that saw 20,000 pills sold per month, is as compelling and exhilarating as anything Hollywood could ever hope to craft.

Intriguingly, even after serving an 80-month prison sentence, Dodd still doesn’t see their operation as any worse than the big pharmaceutical companies. “Corporate greed, politics [and] money” are the main drivers of America’s public health emergency, Dodd told Vice in a recent interview. 

"They wanted to give a 20-year-old kid that's never been arrested before life in federal prison for selling prescription pain pills,” he said. “You have people higher up casting the shadow down on kids—college students—and you threaten them with life in federal prison. Yet you're saying your co-workers, your constituents, your people—the ones who ignited the fire, the ones making millions of dollars off of it—[are OK] and nothing happens to them. They get a little fine and they carry on.”

Officially known as the “Barabas Criminal Enterprise,” Dodd’s multimillion-dollar oxycodone ring was spearheaded by five teens: brothers Lance, Landon and Larry Barabas, as well as Richard Sullivan and Dodd himself. As he writes in his book, Dodd was immediately taken with the opioid painkiller, not only from the high but from the fact that it only took a few days to clear out of his system.

“The warm soothing sensation of the oxycodone rushing through my veins, relaxing and loosening every muscle fiber within my body, was overwhelmingly euphoric,” Dodd wrote in his memoir (excerpted by the UK’s Daily Mail). Soon enough, the opioid ring was bringing in enough money that they threw parties where sorority girls would roll around on a king-sized bed covered with $100,000 in cash. In 2009, however, an informant brought the whole operation crashing down around them. 

After he was released in October 2014, Dodd hit the ground running and graduated college with a 4.0 and a degree in logistics, according to Vice. He’s also currently working on an associate’s degree in business communications.

For Dodd, his memoir is only the beginning. The book’s release “is laying the groundwork,” as Dodd hopes to carry his story to universities across the U.S. and eventually open up a treatment center. He also hopes his book will help change the public’s mindset about drug offenses—especially since the OxyContin operation's main ringleader Lance Barabas is still serving a 15-year prison sentence.

“Mass incarceration is fucking ridiculous,” Dodd said about non-violent offenders. “It's like a human warehousing system, and it only creates more problems of moving forward within the society.” Drug offenses should be treated like credit reports, he suggested, with bad information falling off after a few years.

Regardless, while Dodd doesn’t deny that his life has followed the same tragic trajectory of many infamous drug kingpins, he’s managed to do what they could not: turn the page to a brand new chapter.

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at paulfuhr.com. You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.