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WCBS 880 Special Series: Bad Medicine - Part 6 - Law Enforcement's New Focus On Painkiller-Related Violence

WCBS 880 reporter Irene Cornell is doing an extended series on drug abuse, called Bad Medicine: When Painkillers Kill. The series will run through May 23. Be sure to check for her pieces if you miss them on-air.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Narcotic painkillers and the doctors who prescribe them illegally have become a new focus for law enforcement, WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reported.

WCBS 880's Irene Cornell On The Story


New York City's Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Bridget Brennan, has seen the volume of these pill cases jump from 5 percent to 20 percent of all cases her investigators handle.

It's a huge increase, but the difference is not only in the numbers.

"We are finding narcotics pills mixed in with cocaine and heroin and being trafficked by traditional narcotics organizations," Brennan told Cornell.

Investigators will go out with a search warrant, expecting to find cocaine, but it will end up being more than that.

"Lo and behold, when we go in, what we find is cocaine, Oxycodone pills, maybe some Morphine and some guns," Brennan said.

Prescription pills have become valuable currency in the drug dealing underworld, Cornell reported.

Drugs and violence have always gone together, but now legal drugs have been added to the deadly equation.

Brennan said nothing prepared her office for the Father's Day massacre at a neighborhood drug store in Medford, Long Island.

She had her investigators on that case immediately after those four innocent people were killed for prescription pills.

"The very next day, we reviewed all the records we had related to our cases and turned up some people who had been patients of a doctor we were investigating," Brennan said. "One of those patients had a pistol permit. [We] obtained his image on the web, saw that it looked very similar to a surveillance photo that was being widely distributed at that time."

That information helped Suffolk County detectives capture the killer, David Laffer.

"That tragedy never should have happened. There was data out there that we could have prevented that from happening and we need to use the data that we have at the Department of Health much more frequently. We need to use it earlier and we need to be able to target these individuals," Terry O'Leary, the new head of the state's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, told Cornell.

O'Leary said there is a whole generation of addicted patients out there, and a growing potential for violence.

Has painkiller-related violence hit your community? Please feel free to say something about it in the comments section below.

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