Taxpayers Foot Bill For Deadliest Drugs On The Street
by Nick Beres
MANCHESTER, Tenn. -- Powerful prescription narcotics sold on the street are often paid for with your tax dollars. And the profit for dealers is big money with total sales topping those of crack, methamphetamine and even marijuana.
"The majority of the prescription medicine sold on the streets is paid for by TennCare," said Officer Mike Dunn with the Office of the State Inspector General.
News Channel 5 was granted unprecedented access and join state and local drug agents on undercover stings to catch people selling TennCare drugs.
In one case caught on undercover video a confidential informant buys one hundred hydrocodone pills from a man in a drug store parking lot in broad daylight. The dealer had purchased the pills just moments before and turned around immediately to sell them.
"They're making a lot of money on these pills," said Detective Yogi Yother with the Manchester Police Department.
Manchester is a target city for drug agents looking to crackdown on the growing prescription drug trade. The state is now green-lighting more undercover buys to stop the fraud.
"It's become so common that it's just like everyday business," said Detective Yother.
In another case, detectives track a buyer to a Walmart where he uses a forged prescription for narcotics. Moments after he walks out of the store with the pills agents converge with guns drawn to take him down.
The suspect admits he agreed to do the risky pick up of the prescription for a friend and they would split the pills. Instead, they both now face felony charges.
State officials say prescription and TennCare fraud costs citizens millions in tax dollars every year in Tennessee. And now that these pills seem to have become the pill of choice police across the state are stepping up efforts to shut that illegal trade down.