Biotech BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) – Ethel Johnson couldn’t get her prescription for pain medication filled fast enough. The 60-year-old Buffalo woman was hurting – but investigators say that wasn’t the reason for the rush.According to secretly recorded telephone conversations, the sooner Johnson could pick up her pills, the more quickly she could sell them to her dealer. Her pain pills were destined for the street.Johnson is among 33 people charged so far in a large-scale investigation that has opened a window into an emerging class of suppliers in the illicit drug trade: medical patients, including many who rely on the publicly funded Medicaid program to pay for their appointments and prescriptions. She has pleaded not guilty.For the first time, the Buffalo investigators devoted the kinds of resources normally aimed at street drugs like heroin or crack – wiretaps, buys, surveillance and cross-agency cooperation to trace the drugs from pharmacy to street. Even they were taken aback by the burgeoning market for the kinds of pills found in medicine cabinets in typical American homes.”I have to admit we were sort of surprised at how big this had become,” said Charles Tomaszewski, former supervisor of the DEA office. “The suburbs, the city,… Read full this story
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