BALTIMORE (WJZ) — New information about the looting of dozens of West Baltimore pharmacies. Police now say a chase led them to some of the stolen drugs.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren with what we’re learning.
Police did not want to provide many details. Those prescription drugs, however, did not make it very far from the intersection of Pennsylvania and North avenues.
Wild security video shows people looting pharmacies across West Baltimore during the riots. They took just about every pill in 27 stores.
“That’s what it looked like. We were closing. That’s how bare the shelves were,” said Ora Powers, pharmacy manager.
For weeks, city police and federal agents have been looking for as many as 70 people responsible. This week, they got a break–finding some of the stash.
Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis describes how that unfolded.
“Baltimore police officers chased a bad guy with a gun into a home that resulted in a unique discovery of some prescription pills,” he said.
Authorities will not say exactly how much, but the DEA does not consider the amount small.
“It’s kind of somewhere in the middle. We’re going through the stuff that was recovered to see what exactly we have,” said DEA Special Agent Todd Edwards.
Neither the DEA nor city police would reveal which house they raided, but sources tell WJZ it was within just a few blocks of the CVS at Pennsylvania and North avenues.
City police have blamed the looting on a surge in shootings and killings.
“There’s enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
“Part of it’s connected to turf battles between gangs and independent drug dealers,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent Gary Tuggle.
The DEA believes it’s fueling more abuse–what could become a heroin crisis.
“Some of these are opiate derivatives,” said Edwards. “Once people cannot get them, they turn to cheaper and more readily available heroin.”
Federal agents acknowledge it will take time to build cases against those who ransacked the pharmacies.
“We’re seeing a lot of cooperation,” said Edwards. “Anything the public can give us would be greatly appreciated.”
At this point, authorities have not made a single arrest in connection with the looting of any of the pharmacies.
It is a federal crime to steal more than $500 worth of prescriptions from pharmacies. City police are also looking for those who stole other merchandise.