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UNDERCOVER OPERATIONS LEADS TO ARREST IN OXYCONTIN CASE
By Ryan McBride - The Sun Staff
HOPKINTON - A multi-department taskforce of local police and federal Drug Enforcement Agency agents have arrested a Connecticut man who allegedly sold to an undercover officer what police believe to be prescription painkiller Oxycontin pills, according to police reports.
Kristofer Roberts, 25, of Milford, faces criminal charges of delivery of schedule II drugs and possession of a controlled substance. Roberts had no prescription for the pills, police said.
Roberts reportedly met with the undercover officer at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the commuter parking lot at Exit 1 off Interstate 95. There, the officer paid $1,600 for a plastic vile containing 35, 80-milligram pills, police said. Then members of the taskforce - consisting of four to five DEA agents, five town police officers, and three Newport police detectives, and one Westerly police detective - took Roberts into custody without incident, according to police Lt. Michael Gilman.
Gilman said that police investigated Roberts' alleged Oxycontin dealing for a month before the arrest. He has no prior criminal record, Gilman said.
According to the Office of National Drug Policy, Oxycontin gives users an opiate-like sensation and is a popular substitute to heroin. Purdue Pharma, a Stamford Conn.-based pharmaceutical company, began manufacturing Oxycontin in 1995. But the painkiller's active ingredient Oxycodone has been abused for 30 years, according to the ONDP.
The rising abuse of Oxycontin prompted Purdue Pharma to step up its drug warning
"The major source of recreational use is what we call diversion, that's the technical term for a prescription going where it shouldn't," said Dr. Freddy Roland, medical director at Center for Behavioral Health, which has an office in Westerly.
According to DEA data, a 160-milligram dose of Oxycontin fetches up to $100 on the street
"(Oxycontin abuse) is a rising cause of emergency room visits for overdoses," Roland said, noting that the drug is particularly dangerous when consumed with alcohol.
Roland said that he treats many people who are addicted to Oxycontin that have no prior history of drug abuse. He said that, depending on a number of variables, it typically takes 10 to 20 doses of the painkiller to develop dependency.
Rhode Island is among several state across the U.S. that has tried to curtail illegal use of Oxycontin prescription drug monitoring programs, according to the ONDP.
Roberts was arraigned Thursday morning in Fourth Division District Court in Wakefield, where he was ordered to be held at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston until March 17, Gilman said.