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tv   Al Roker Reporting  MSNBC  July 16, 2011 10:00am-11:00am PDT

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prescription pills, they're lifesavers. >> i overdosed and i flat lined. >> now they've become the latest street drugs, bought and sold for cold cash in broad daylight. it's ravishing our kids. we're with agents of the dea as they crack down. but kids can also get high at home, your home. >> the internet is like the 21st drug dealer. >> junkies hooked on pills commit desperate crimes.
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a wild west gang that terrorized four states and scores of drugstores. >> i used every opportunity, i just took it. >> prescription drug abuse, a new american epidemic. prescription drugs are a modern miracle and can literally bring people back from the brink of death, extend life, and enhance quality. but there is a dark side. when abused, they can also be addictive and deadly. according to experts, prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic affecting more than 7 million americans in any given month, more than heroin, cocaine and other drugs combined and it's exploding among teens and young adults so now it's a top priority for the
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government's drug enforcement agency, the dea. >> tonight we'll make undercover buys. for those who aren't familiar with the market you can buy anything from a script to heroin. today we'll focus on buying oxycontin or perkoset. >> they call it operation free market. this morning their undercover or uc will purchase pills on the street. we've obscured his face at the dea's request. >> we're going to come down franklin and walk up utah. people will be calling out different scripts or pills and you'll know exactly what you need. >> the sellers will actually call out what they have. >> without question. if you need zamax they'll say so and so has it up the street. go get it from him. keep in mind this saratoga area, intel tells us it's a gang related area. if i hear of any type of distress i'll let everyone know. everyone is responsible for our people getting out safe. okay.
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we'll pack it up and go down to the basement and get everything together and rock 'n' roll. nice and easy. no screeching of wheels. go out there, simply arrest them. tell them they're under arrest. grab them. a car will come in and get them and we'll ship them back here for processing. >> this is out in the open. is it still dangerous? >> yes, sir. >> without question. >> any time you put drugs and money together it's a dangerous situation. they won't think twice about pulling out a gun to grab a hundred bucks. >> right on the street, broad daylight. >> today's mission is taking place in inner city baltimore, but many buyers may travel in from nearby suburbs and small towns, so the uc fits that profile. in no time at all he's approached. >> how much? >> you hear that? good conversation. looks like we have a little competition here with another
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individual. >> actually a competition to sell? >> right. possibly three people. >> all right. they're negotiating now. what type of pills are we talking? xanax. >> first he buys two pills for $10 through this middle man. >> all right, guys. pulling out the cash. >> the middle man tells the uc he can find more pills but before he has a chance another guy in a parked car calls out and the deal goes down. the uc hands over $80 bucks for 30 pills. >> here you go. perfect. >> take it. take it down. >> all right. come on. >> target's got a bum leg. checking for weapons now. >> you got any weapons? >> no. >> guns? >> no. >> needles? >> no. >> turns out the seller actually has a script. it's a popular generic pain pill but the seller apparently prefers profit to pain relief for his bum leg. >> it's a quick way to make money.
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unfortunately they're selling to kids in off the suburbs or anyone off the street who could go and overdose on these drugs. >> i overdosed and flatlined and they brought me back. >> my parents had no idea. >> when i overdosed is the only way they found out. >> you're under arrest. we're going to handcuff you. you get in there. >> he'll go to the doctor and get the prescription filled and then comes down here to sell it for a profit. >> when we target the doctors and pharmacies we see the impact. >> so the point of this exercise is finding the people up the chain. >> right. >> most kids don't start out buying from street pushers. many get their first hit right at home out of the family medicine chest. >> we asked teens where do you get the prescription drugs you abuse? one-third say we get them from their homes. >> you need a refill, dad. >> mom, can i take a lipitor?
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>> sure. >> thanks. >> their world is awash with pills. they watch television night after night and they see all these ads of take this pill. relieve your pain. take this pill, you'll be able to sleep. >> a great night. seven to eight hours of restful sleep. >> by the time you're 12 or 13 or 14 you are convinced there's a pill for every ill. pills can do anything. >> i was about 13 and it was a perkoset. >> i think maybe 15 is when i started using prescription drugs. i started off using vicodin. >> when i started doing prescription drugs i was about 13. >> and then you have a friend. he says, you know, this oxycontin, this is great stuff. you'll get a high. and try it. >> you mentioned oxycontin. is that the most dangerous drug out there kids are abusing? >> 80% of the teens abusing
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drugs are abusing painkillers -- oxycontin, vicodin are the premiere ones. >> i had a friend doing oxycontin and i thought it was okay because it's not heroin. it's the same exact feeling as heroin, same exact feeling, same exact high. >> they're time released drugs. they last all day. these kids take them, crush them, and get a tremendous high. and suddenly, they're hooked on oxycontin. i mean, it's very addictive. >> dea tries to get all kinds of prescription pills off the street but just a few hours after this morning's bust, the pushers are right back at it. so dea has enlisted local law enforcement as a partner. baltimore's city watch surveillance system has installed over 100 cameras in the downtown area alone. >> number one male. both of them are dirty. they should be coming your way in less than one minute. >> yeah i got them. >> their electronic eyes in the
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sky pan the streets. the jump out team is on the case and they take down a dealer in the act. >> all right. come on. come on. >> hey. you want to hit it? >> this continues to go on day in and day out from 8:00 a.m. until about 4:00 p.m. it shuts down. same person may be putting out there hundreds of pills at a time. okay. the individual we just arrested said he had nothing on him and this is a prescription bottle. he had this today from 90 tablets of xanax and two milligram bars and he was selling them for $4 a bar. so he got them filled today and there's probably maybe 15 left out of the 90. not a bad day's work. he could just doctor shop and go anywhere and get another refill and he rocks and rolls and is ready to go. >> would this qualify as a
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public health crisis? >> we think it's a public health crisis. these drugs do serious damage to kids. we have a tremendous increase in overdose deaths and you look at some of the celebrity problems -- heath ledger and go back to elvis presley and marilyn monroe. their overdoses involved prescription drugs. >> now the crisis has reached main street. our kids, generation rx. >> a lot of bad things like robbing people. >> i didn't really care who i hurt in the process. i didn't really think about anybody else but myself and me getting high. >> i've done a lot of things i regret for just one high that i didn't even really need. >> desperate crimes. >> a person who is doing pharmacy robberies for oxycontin is not going to stop until he or she is caught. >> and a desperate criminal. >> hang on their every --
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it's december 8th, 2007. a quiet saturday morning at the maple leaf drug store in north seattle. pharmacist bernie bowman is alone behind the counter unaware he is about to become a victim in a one-man crime wave, in a string of robberies. >> i saw a person completely covered from head to foot with a gun pointed straight at my head about three feet from me. the first thing he said was, i want all of your oxycontin and don't give me the generic. i said, fine. no problem. but we don't carry much brand name. he looked in the drawer and he started stuffing bottles of pills into his pocket. he was getting agitated when he wasn't finding things he wanted. while you're going through this whole thing you're thinking, please, don't let him shoot me. >> operator 14. >> i just got robbed. maple leaf pharmacy. >> okay. did they use a weapon? >> yeah.
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he showed a gun. >> what happened at the maple leaf is part of a growing trend. all across the country hundreds and hundreds of pharmacies are being robbed by desperados strung out on oxycontin and other prescription drugs. most of the time they skip the cash and make off with the stash. >> a person doing pharmacy robberies for oxycontin is not going to stop until he or she is caught. why? the addiction is so overpowering that they will do anything they can to go out and get the dope. >> okay. keep me posted as to what happens with it. >> detective mike magan has 22 years of high profile cases under his belt. in december, 2007, he led the investigation into a rampage of eight robberies in eight days of pharmacies in and around seattle. >> it was clearly the same suspect with the same m.o. committing a series of robberies with a hand gun.
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>> we weren't getting fingerprints at the scene. he was gloved, masked. the only thing people were seeing was his eyes. >> the fear factor was high. police set up s.w.a.t. team hoping to stake out stores that were likely targets and catch the perp in the act. then on december 11th they got lucky. >> robbery in progress at the tannerman's pharmacy, armed with a hand gun, white man 25 to 30. just went out the back door. >> my radio went off and i responded down to the scene of the small mom and pop pharmacy. in this robbery i think he picked the wrong victim. >> this is beverly. may i help you? >> beverly has been a pharmacist for over 30 years. all of them right here at katterman's. >> we had two people enter the store and they were not the usual pharmacy customer. they acted abnormal. i was suspicious that they lingered so long. they were up to no good.
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>> that's the pharmacist there. >> right here. >> yes. >> and i think she at that point is actually aware they're being cased out. >> these two people left the store and about an hour later the male came back. >> he's got a backpack over his shoulder. there is the gun down at his side there. he gets right behind the counter, very cocky, gets the gun out, gets the gun in the victim's face and demands the drugs. >> he specifically asked for oxycontin 80. we specifically do not stock oxycontin 80 so my response to his demand was, we don't have any oxycontin 80. so then he said, well, give me something. by that time he knew we had called the police and so he left in disgust. >> but he left behind a major clue for the cops. there was his unmasked face smack dab on the store surveillance video. magian put out a video and within seconds they had identified their likely perp as
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nicholas dent, age 28. >> detective magan came to my house that night and had mug shots of mr. dent. i was able to identify him. he told me, good. we'll go arrest him tonight. >> fearing that dent was armed, high, and possibly out of control, they had a s.w.a.t. team on stand by at his house. >> you could look up in the window and see him and he was saying oh, geez, what did i do, what did i get myself into? you know he's becoming very paranoid, very frantic, after a few minutes. i think he realized efforts to resist police would be futile and he then had the presence of mind to say, okay. i'm done. he gave up. >> nick dent fits the profile of a pharmacy robber to a t. young, white male in his 20s acting alone. when the police search dent's home and car they found his backpack, the clothes he wore, as well as his pistol. it turned out to be a fake but
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looked exactly like magan's own glock semiautomatic. >> as far as drugs are concerned, what was that like? what kind of stash did he have? >> in 22 years of experience i've never seen one person have the drug store that he had. that meant to me he was both using and selling. >> there were thousands of pills, a lot of oxycontin, plus methadone, morphine, and more. all together the street value of dent's week-long crime spree? close to $100,000. >> you get him down to the police station. what happens then? >> it's 23 minutes after the hour of 1:00. today's date is -- >> he questioned our authority to even compel his detention. >> what evidence do you have to arrest me, sir? >> the surveillance photograph and the photo montage. >> a surveillance photograph of what? >> basically, we have a bunch of unsolved robberies. but we only have him, literally, for one robbery. okay? and if i can't get in that room and get a confession, the other
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robberies go unsolved even though we know he did it. so my job is to go in there and do what it takes to get a confession. >> take this away, this away, this away. what proof do you have? >> as you can see there he tries to take the photos. if you don't have this you don't have anything. >> he was belligerent. >> and manipulative. >> i'm just saying, how can you identify this guy? >> we have the proof because you're sitting right here and you're going to tell us the truth about the proof. i will show you on lot numbers that are present on the bottles. tell us what happened. >> as the interrogation drags on dent tries to hold out. the tension mounts. >> you know what? i sat here for an hour and a half and asked you questions and you still get away. right here on the camera tell everyone who will see this that we got the wrong guy.
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i said, nick, can you do that? nick can't do it. >> the tide finally turns when the cops tell dent his own parents have identified the stash of drugs as his. >> you tried to hand it to your mom? >> really. >> yes. >> is that what my parents told you? >> yes. >> really. >> you want to hear their statements? >> yes i do. >> tell me what he was saying as he handed you that bag. >> i got to get rid of this. >> you gotta get rid of these. you gotta get rid of this. >> a jury will hang on their every single word especially when i come up right behind them. >> when you're dealing with someone strung out you need to peck at them and peck at them until they finally crack. >> every day of my life. it's so bad. >> why did it fall apart? >> i can't go to prison. >> is that why you won't tell me the truth? is that why you won't tell me the truth? >> it's not just about that. it's because i can't go to prison. i will go nuts in prison. >> you see this perpetrator
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bawling like a baby. do you think okay. i think we got a shot at this. >> oh, yeah. on the outside i'm sympathetic. on the inside i'm hungry to get more. i need that confession. >> i ain't going to lie, i do have an addiction. >> how long have you had the addiction? >> a year. >> a year? >> yes. >> what have you done to support your habit? >> i had $30,000 i had saved up from being hardworking man that pays taxes and it's gone. >> dent was actually a top ranked car salesman until he became a junkie and was fired for selling to his co-workers. >> it's sad. his crimes are acts of desperation. >> at some point, something in nick's mind, the switch flipped. he decides that he's caught. >> bottom line is this. you want to tell us the truth and you have to tell it all not
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just in pieces. >> i'll tell you the truth. >> talk to us all about the robberies, yes or no? >> other robberies that i was involved in. it'll determine the next 20 years of my life. >> an unlikely felon. >> finally, somebody stopped me from this madness. >> and a nurse who ripped off her own patients. >> the patient went to the hospital and they had a cart of them and i just took it. ♪ ♪ look at that car, well, it goes fast ♪ ♪ givin' my dad a heart attack ♪ [ friend ] that is so awesome. ♪ i love my car [ engine revving ] [ male announcer ] that first chevy, yea, it gets under your skin. ♪
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>> oxycontin. >> when oxycontin addict nick dent robbed eight pharmacies in eight days he committed a federal crime that could have landed him in prison for 20 years. in fact he only got five because when caught he confessed. >> robbing a pharmacy at gunpoint is what i would characterize as a stupid crime because not that there are smart ones but this is particularly stupid because the success rate in terms of catching a person and convicting the person is close to a hundred percent.
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so this is dumb. >> for the past few years, ron friedman has worked together with dea seattle to crack down on crimes related to prescription drug abuse. he has seen first hand how pills can ravage some unlikely addicts. >> somebody told me when i was in college that i was going to become a drug addict and rob a pharmacy i would have told them they were out of their mind. >> josh boyd was an all american, small town kid from monroe, washington. >> i started playing baseball and got really into it. my life eventually just revolved around that. >> in college, the talented south paw dreamed of playing for the majors until he got hurt. >> i collided with the shortstop and separated my nerve that runs from your spine through your deltoid. >> boyd was x-rayed, given pain pills, and sent on his way. >> vicodin and i eventually ran out of those and whatever i could get from my friends
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because it was 24 hours a day pain. >> his baseball career was over and so was college. >> once i didn't have that anymore i kind of didn't know who i was. but if i was eating pills all day long it minimized everything else that was going on deep inside me. >> nothing following you at all. you're just so relaxed. >> no one could touch me. nothing could hurt me. >> for josh boyd the descent into oblivion was gradual. he moved back home, got married, went to work for his dad. but he kept getting high. >> it went from just those vicodin to oxycontin and once i took it to that level, i was searching to get high all the time. i was doing probably ten to 15, 80 mg a day. the street price on that is like $70 to $80. >> which meant josh boyd's habit was costing him as much as $8,000 a week.
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five days after nick dent got busted and just a few miles away josh boyd entered a rite-aid wielding a pellet gun. >> i remember it clear. i remember passing a note, pay attention. stay calm. do what i say. i will shoot you and her if you do something stupid. even when i was doing it, i remember going, what are you doing? >> a call to 911 and a short foot chase later, boyd was tackled by the cops. and that was that. >> i was sitting in the back of the cop car and just like had this peace all of a sudden. finally. somebody stopped me from this madness. >> despite getting busted, josh boyd and nick dent are the lucky ones. they survived their addiction with a chance to reclaim their lives. others have met a different fate. in the seattle area alone, deaths involving prescription painkillers have more than
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doubled since 2001. but it's not only desperate, strung out young men who are breaking the law. >> we came to realize that this crime and these controlled substances being distributed unlawfully, it was happening at all levels and there were medical professionals including doctors who were violating the law as well in their practices. >> 1552 hours. going to target diana lancaster. >> even a nurse was convicted named diana lancaster who was ripping off her own patients at the nursing home where she worked. >> the local police received information that someone from that facility was stealing patient drugs and selling them. so we introduced an undercover to her and she sold pills to him. >> the undercover had been busted so he copped a plea and agreed to wear a hidden camera. lancaster was a pill popper herself but seemed to get high on theft as well as drugs.
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>> i swiped this sweater set. >> nice. >> oh, yeah. i stole this from the sidewalk sale. i stole this from penney's. this from penney's. my underwear drawer, i pick things out that i want and then i go into the back to try on and the ones that i want i tear the tabs off and wear them. i may have two or three bras on at one time. i put my clothes over them and walk out. >> after bragging about her skill at stealing lancaster gets down to business. >> so what do you want? >> as many trazodone and whatnot as you can. >> she was repeatedly stealing drugs from the nursing home. she would take it from patients' trays. >> what i did is a patient went to the hospital and they had a cart of them and i just took the cart. >> she would take it from the narcotics cabinet, in any way, shape, or form that she could. >> is that enough? because i need to save some for me. >> yeah. these in here?
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>> yeah. they're 150 apiece and that should knock you out. don't do more than two of them. >> don't do more than two? all right. >> because you're not used to it. i can do two. >> just take one to help me sleep? >> if all you want is to help you sleep you could break one of these into three. 50 will help you sleep. a hundred will put you down. >> and then 150 will -- >> 150 is -- >> and you take two of them? >> i take two of them. >> she was finally arrested on the day of her arrest i think the police made a deliberate decision to stop her as she was leaving work just on the off chance. and sure enough, when they searched her incident to arrest her body and her purse was just stocked with stuff that she was taking just that day. >> i'm very, very sorry for what i did and i'm looking towards recovery. thank you. >> the patients that you were supposed to take care of. do you say anything to them? >> a burglary gang that ripped off pharmacies up and down the
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west coast. >> we were successful for two and a half, three years. >> the average heist would be about $100,000 street value. >> and how they finally got busted. ñññ [ male announcer ] you don't make the world's best chicken
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msnbc now, richard lui here with you. no deal yet in the fight over raising the debt ceiling. but lawmakers agree that time is running out. the u.s. is in danger of defaulting on its bills for the first time ever. after the uk hacking scandal forced a shakeup, rupert murdoch apologized to the victims of the scandal. now back to "al roker reporting." while the use of illicit drugs like coke and speed has dropped significantly especially among older teens and young adults abuse of prescription drugs has risen. according to the federal
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government today more first-time users turn to prescription pills for their high than marijuana. that means a steady demand. as we all know in our market economy where there's demand supply will follow. seattle, washington. land of lattes, microsoft, and mount rainier. but beginning in 2004, the pacific northwest became known for something else entirely. agents of the dea were the first to notice. >> the dea brought to my attention that we were having an alarming number of pharmacy burglaries. washington led the country in pharmacy burglaries. >> under law, any theft of controlled substances must be reported to dea. >> dea showed me, every time a pharmacy is burgled this is what's being taken. it's all being dumped on your streets, into your neighborhoods, all over the state. >> it wasn't just washington. up and down the west coast dea
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plotted out scores of pharmacies in oregon, idaho, and california that were being hit as well. so in late 2005, the feds launched operation midnight sweep and began to gather intelligence. >> the people doing the burglaries were all using the same m.o. >> all of the burglaries as we began to look at them were committed in a specific way. it was an unusual way. it was a highly sophisticated way. and that became their fingerprint, because they never left any fingerprints. they never left any evidence. they were never on any videos. there was nothing. >> but there was a tell tale pattern. >> one of the main things this group did was they would cut the phone lines at the junction box outside the pharmacies. >> what that does is cuts off all telephone power to the pharmacy. that means the remote alarm is not going to work anymore. >> they would also listen to the police scanner to make sure there was no police activity in the area. >> finally, they called the
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pharmacy from their cell phone just to triple check that the alarm was really dead and the coast was clear. only then would they break in. >> we were pretty much successful at what we did for about two and a half, three years. >> kenny graham was one of the king pins of this latter day, wild west gang. >> basically we were mostly looking for oxycontin. it was the first priority when we went in the pharmacy and we'd get vicodin, perkoset, morphine, basically the narcotics. >> these guys were fast weren't they? >> once they went in and got the door open and got in they would be in and out within five minutes. >> cash register was open. they didn't take a dollar. they didn't take tvs. they didn't take ipods. all they took was all of the significant controlled substances inside the pharmacy. it was as if they worked at the pharmacy. they knew exactly where to go. >> basically after i was doing it so long i could just walk by and see the colors of the bottles standing out, the shapes, sizes. it came natural. just an instinct.
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>> what kind of cash value are we talking about in drugs they would steal? >> most of the times they hit an average heist would be about a hundred thousand dollars street value. >> kenny graham says he personally burgled at least 20 pharmacies and made about a half a million dollars. that's heady stuff for a small town, blue collar boy. by early 2006, the feds were virtually certain that their perps were a group of childhood friends from marysville, washington. joshua james was the ring leader and an addict himself like most of the others. he brought in kenny as well as the gang's main distributor, another old pal named colin walmsley who operated out of his garage. >> it was a pharmacy in a garage. >> pretty much it was a farmee in a garage. he had a huge safe that he had the drugs organized in the safe in alphabetical order. >> if you commit crimes long enough you'll get caught. sooner or later the nature of the work is you make some mistake.
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>> like using their own cell phones instead of disposables which allowed the feds to track all those middle of the night calls to pharmacies. or josh james' fake i.d. complete with photo plus his image captured on a hotel security cam. the same night and right next door to a burgled pharmacy. and then there was the east valley drug store in concrete, washington. >> he's actually looking. >> right at the camera. >> now he realizes. there's a video camera. >> and he smashes the camera. this is one of the mistakes they make. because he didn't get rid of the film. >> finally, the gang made a fateful mistake down in pendleton, oregon. there was a burglary at the local rite-aid. when police arrived the next morning they found a tarp on the telephone junction box. >> they were able to trace as amazing as it is this tarp and determine it had been purchased at 12:06 a.m. that night of the burglary at a walmart right there in pendleton. not only that but they had
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surveillance film that shows at 12:06 a.m. there is a fellow who operates a tatoo parlor up in marysville named michael hinkel. >> he had a prominent tatoo on his neck making him easy to identify. what's more the pendleton rite-aid had video and guess who had been casing the joint a few hours before the burglary? >> sure enough there's footage of them walking around the pharmacy in pendleton. now we know there was enough evidence to indict them for that pendleton burglary. >> after pendleton, operation midnight sweep went into high gear. dea crunched all their data and tracked the gang in live time and tightened the noose. >> in the fall of '06 i wrote a letter to michael hinkel. here are the crimes you can be charged with. you're going to be charged. if you would like to have an impact upon what happens to you, this is your chance.
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we advise you to get a lawyer and come into the u.s. attorney's office. hinkel came in and soon after that we made the decision to go straight for joshua james. and then he came in. the next thing you know more people got letters. then more people got letters. >> the dea finally put everything together and started coming down to our little group based out of washington and just got ahold of everybody and just that was it. >> in the end they all confessed and the feds convicted 24 members of the burglary ring and put all of them behind bars. kenny graham got five and a half years. >> it was false mopey and a fake life. it was an easy opportunity. i just took it. instead of working for it and waiting to get it and these are the consequences i have to deal with now. >> prescription drugs available at the click of a mouse. >> today's internet is a pharmaceutical candy store for kids. >> you may be shocked how easy it is. and toxic cocktails that can kill.
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>> i received a phone call from a hospital in newark and they said your son was brought into the emergency room last night and you need to come down here. >> all i could do was scream and i fell to the floor. >> mark and linda had lived every parent's worst nightmare. on december 17th, 2003, their 19-year-old son jason, a healthy, strapping college sophomore, was found unresponsive in his dorm room, the victim of a drug overdose. >> when i walked into the emergency room that was the first time i had ever learned
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anything about his drug use. there was a combination of vicodin, oxycontin, and xanax in his system when he died. >> jason didn't have to venture the mean streets to procure his stash. for him and countless others like him there was a push right at home lurking within his own computer. >> the internet we characterize as the 21st century drug dealer. >> today's internet as pharmaceutical candy store for kids. >> joseph runs the national center for addiction and substance abuse at columbia university. >> kids go on the internet. they can bang in vicodin without a prescription, buy oxycontin without a prescription. all they need as credit card and a click of a mouse and they can order it. it's that easy. >> it's that easy. >> i'm going to type in affordable xanax. let's see. what do we get? you get a price list. xanax. order 30 pills, 25 mg, $43.97. okay.
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let me see if we click on two milligram, ten pills, $33.97. okay. check out. and then there's -- >> first name, last name, e-mail address. shipping address. credit card. >> if i fill this out and it says date of birth, must be over 18 to order. >> that's right. now, how do they check that? all you have to do is put a date of birth that puts you over 18. >> then please list all medical conditions, list medications you plan to take. list your primary care physician. >> you can list any physician. >> review and confirm order. you filled all this out. bang. you hit it and you've got it. >> you've got it. >> you have your xanax. >> the first internet pharmacies appeared in 1999. they've been tracking them since 2003. while some are 100% legitimate hundreds of others are anything but. for instance, the research found that 85% of the sites selling drugs don't even require a
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prescription from the patient's doctor. >> type in symptoms and they prescribe you medication for the symptoms. they don't have to be real symptoms. you just type in whatever. >> we had a situation where a doctor sitting in front of a computer screen miles or states away from where the pharmacy is is writing hundreds and hundreds of prescriptions a day for people he's never examined. clearly, that is not within the scope of legitimate medical practice. >> after jason's death his parents found a handwritten note with a web address, user i.d., and the cost of some pills he had procured over the internet. it was only then they realized how clueless they had been. though linda has worked in substance abuse prevention since jason was 6 years old. >> we have a household where we talked about drugs and alcohol a lot more than most parents, most families do. >> it never occurred to us that
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prescription drugs were a problem. >> we've taken the street peddler in these situations and brought him right into the bedroom. we really have. that's a problem and what dea is all about focusing on. >> chris, why don't you walk us through this morning. >> once everybody is there then we'll roll to the target we'll roll to the target pharmacy. >> for the past several years, dea has been cracking down on electronic drug dealers who peddle their wares to kids like jason. in 2007, nbc news went along as dea raided an internet pharmacy near tampa, florida, for selling pain kirl killers illegally. boxes and boxes of hydrocodone were carted off. >> this is destined for people all across the country who have ordered this online. >> since 2005, in florida alone, 38 of these rogue internet pharmacies have gone out of business as a result of dea action. >> police with warrant! open the door! open the door! dea! open the door! open the door!
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[ siren blaring ] >> we're trying to put pressure on the pharmacies that if you do this, you very well could go to jail. >> online pharmacies that flout the law use the internet as their safe house to elude detection. >> these sites change very quickly. you may see these sites today and three days later they're not. they're other sites. the site from which you order the drugs may not be the place from which the drugs are shipped. it's very hard to police. >> in the latest twist, people not only buy their pills online, they also go there to swap advice on how to heighten the high. >> i take two 10-milligram valium. within 20 minutes, i'm feeling pretty good, because i'm also doing a cold water extraction on vicodin tabs. >> jason serts surfed the web in
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just that way. >> check out www.[ muted ].org, perhaps the best website in the world for what we like. i always check it out before i put it up my nose or in my mouth. >> ironically, jason hoped to become a pharmacist. >> because he was a pharmacy student, he considered himself quite update at research. i don't think he realized what he was facing at all. jason was brought up in the suburbs, all of the trappings of a 21st century kid. you know, piano lessons and ipods and everything else. it could happen to anyone. >> in late 2008, president bush signed the online pharmacy consumer protection act. with limited exceptions, that law will man date an in-person doctor/patient exam for internet script to be valid. experts say it's a great first step, but does nothing to stop foreign sites.
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as one person at the dea put it, crime is only limited by the imagination of the criminals. >> don't think about taking a pill, chopping it up and drawing a line and snorting it. >> young lives ravaged by prescription pills fight their way back. >> there's not that next time that i can survive. from sprint. its powerful tools help you work faster and smarter so you can get back to playing "angry birds." it lets you access business forms on the go, fire off e-mails with the qwerty keypad, and work securely around the world so you can get back to playing "angry birds." it's the android-powered phone that mixes business with pleasure. so let's get our work done, america, so we can all get back to playing "angry birds." the motorola expert from sprint. trouble hearing on the phone? visit covergirl trublend has skin twin technology. other makeup can sit on your skin, so it looks but trublend has skin twin technology to actually merge with your skin. how easy breezy beautiful is that? trublend...from covergirl.
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it was every day, just using, waking up, finding something to use. i didn't even see anything wrong with this. and i was actually looking for more. >> you get that feeling and you're just like, damn, this feels good. >> i feel like it's safe because they're prescribed to people. people get those medications given to them to help with their problems. >> there really in a perception among our children and out teenagers that these things are essentially safe. >> the doctors are prescribing
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it, so, hey, i want to take it. >> experts say that young people are often lulled into a false sense of security, which feeds the epidemic of prescription pill abuse. >> my life was on pause while i was using drugs, that's how i take it. i was just stuck in that moment, doing the same thing, over and over again. >> these kids are fortunate. they landed at daytop, new jersey, a residential treatment facility for teenagers. they may have flirted with death but escaped with their lives. [ ambulance siren ] yet the overall statistics are chilling. drug overdose deaths from pills like oxycontin, vicodin, methadone and others have skyrocketed, increasing 160% in just five years, killing more americans than heroin and cocaine combined. what's more, the federal government reported three quarters of a million precipitation drug-related visits to emergency rooms alone during 2006 alone.
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>> that's an extraordinary number, so, yeah, it's a real serious problem. >> after josh boyd was arrested for robbing pharmacy, he was forced to go cold turkey. >> it's a nightmare. i layed in the -- the bed in jail and squirmed for three nights and sweated and puked and -- i -- you can't explain it. you can't explain it. it's just misery. >> and yet, boyd describes his arrest and conviction as a blessing. >> i would still be getting high right now. if i would've got away with it, then i would've had -- i would've od'd. i would have absolutely od'd. >> instead, boyd is in long-term inpatient rehab and slowly fighting his way back. >> it's intense. from the minute you wake up, it's the hardest thing i've ever done, by far. >> the daytop teens are walking that same long road back to sobriety. >> i still have the mental obsession, like i'll think about, like, taking a pill, chopping it up and, like, drawing a line and snorting it.
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like, i'll still have that mental obsession in my head. just thinking about doing it, and then i'll snap out it. >> i don't want to be that high, like, because there's not that next time that i can survive, like, i already had my chance. >> i really do care about getting clean and staying clean 'cause i realize that my life is heading nowhere. i know that now. >> did you know the first reference to pills in history dates all the way back to ancient egypt? in fact, one famous papyrus is filled with medical remedies. plant powders or other active ingredients were mixed with substances like bread dough, honey or grease, and little balls, or "pills" would be formed with the fingers. that way, a measured dose could be delivered. seems like we've come a long way, yet where our kids are concerned, experts today say we might just want to padlock the medicine chest the way our parents used to lock up the liquor cabinet. >> it is something worth thinking about.


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