The State of Florida is a primary area for international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations, as well as a principal thoroughfare for cocaine and heroin transiting to the northeastern United States and Canada. Florida’s over 8,000 miles of coastline provides virtually unlimited access and opportunities for drug trafficking organizations to use maritime conveyances to smuggle drugs. The short distance between Florida and the Bahamas also serves as a smuggling corridor along the southeast coastline.
Broward County in Florida has become the nation’s capital of illegal prescription drug trafficking with nearly 100 storefront pain clinics feeding a black market in pain pills stretching through Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Massachusetts.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says Florida leads the nation in oxycodone sales. Oxcodone is a powerful synthetic pain killer that has been linked to thousands of deaths across the country.
“It’s worse than crack cocaine and heroin have ever been,” said Special Agent Mike Driscoll, who heads the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s West Palm Beach office. “It’s an extremely serious problem, and it needs the attention of numerous agencies.”
National attention to the prescription drug abuse epidemic has caused some pharmacies in Florida to require local ID’s in order to fill prescriptions.
South Florida has become the largest source of illegal prescriptions drugs being supplied to the country. The number of pain clinics and doctor’s willing to prescribe these medications has made the area the logical choice for traffickers looking to obtain prescription drugs including powerful painkillers.
According to an article in the Sun-Sentinel one pharmacy saw a 20% reduction in sales when they began requiring local ID’s in order to fill prescriptions.
Not all the pharmacies are cooperating, however. Some pharmacies have hired bouncers and lookouts in order to alert the owners of the stores to investigators.
“A lot of the mom-and-pop pharmacies, the only way they’re surviving is by putting out oxycodone,” according Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Richard Pisanti.
This requirement does not stop all the traffickers. It is simple to go to the Florida DMV and get a local ID card made the same day.
The first step to a final solution will be to maintain a database of pill traffickers which will alert local pharmacies when they try to fill prescriptions. Similar systems put in place in other states have shown success in stopping all but the most determined traffickers.
Statistics show an alarming problem facing America. Prescription drug abuse which has held steady over the past five years according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, with nearly one in five teens (19 percent) abusing prescription medications to get high.
In an interview on the CBS Early Show National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said, “The issue of prescription drug abuse, which the Office of National Drug Control Policy has been shouting about from the rooftops, is a significant problem in this country.”
Narconon of Georgia provides effective drug treatment for those suffering from prescriptions drug abuse.