Drugs stolen from pharmacies during the April Baltimore riots are to blame for the city’s recent surge in violent crimes and killings, according to Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
Twenty-seven different pharmacies and two methadone clinics were looted in the riots that followed the death of Freddie Gray and led to the indictment of six police officers, FOX5 reported.
“There are enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” Batts told reporters at a Wednesday press conference.
Batts said the influx of new drugs is disturbing the balance on Baltimore streets between gangs and independent drug dealers.
“Individuals are getting high to a greater degree and at a greater pace than any time before,” Batts said. “Criminals are selling those stolen drugs, there are turf wars happening, which are leading to violence and shootings in our city.”
In May, 43 people were murdered in Baltimore, which made it the deadliest month in the city in over 40 years. In addition to the murders, there have been over 200 shootings in the city since January, which is about an 82 percent increase over the same time last year.
Gary Tuggle, a special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Baltimore field office told WBAL TV gangs were specifically targeting pharmacies during the riots because the prescription drugs can be sold for huge sums on the street.
According to Tuggle, a single 30-milligram tablet of Oxycontin, a powerful narcotic pain reliever, can sell for $30 on the street, where a bag of heroin will only go for around $10.
With just 60 percent of the pharmacies that were robbed reporting so far, police say there are likely more than 175,000 different pills currently on the streets of Baltimore. That number could more than double, however, as more pharmacies continue to report what rioters stole from their stores.
Some smaller pharmacies haven’t reported what was stolen from them yet because they don’t have the computer capabilities of the larger pharmacies for record keeping, and some of them had records destroyed in fires.
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