The recent protests in Baltimore have left the streets filled with stolen drugs from dozens of looted pharmacies and clinics and police are asking federal authorities to step in and help with the rising drug-related crime rate.
CNN reported 27 pharmacies and clinics were looted for drugs during the April protests over the death of Freddie Gray, the black man who was taken into police custody and died a short time later. And during those lootings, as many as 175,000 units of narcotics’ dosages were stolen.
“[That’s] enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, in CNN. “That amount of drugs has thrown off the balance on the streets of Baltimore.”
Batts’ comments come on the heels of weeks of turmoil in Baltimore that included burned buildings, looted businesses and an uptick in gun-related crime – all while police have reportedly backed off enforcement out of fear of retribution from government officials. Six officers have been charged in Gray’s death. In May alone, 42 homicides rocked the city, the deadliest month since 1972.
The influx of drugs isn’t going to help, officials say.
“Criminals are selling those stolen drugs,” Batts said, CNN reported. “There are turf wars happening which are leading to violence and shootings in our city.”
Some of the known stolen drugs include fentanyl, oxycodone, amphetamines, Adderall, hydrocodone, morphine and tramadol.
One Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Gary Tuggle, said to CNN he believed some of the crime hikes in the city were due to drugs.
“The uptick we are seeing, quite honestly, is the face that they have space now and they are out and they’ve got the ability to deal drugs and some feel they can deal with impunity,” he said, CNN reported.
The DEA is trying to sift through the pharmacies’ paperwork to determine how much exactly was stolen. Meanwhile, Maryland state Sen. Catherine Pugh said the Department of Justice should be brought in to make sure police are doing their jobs properly.
“We need them to do their job, so whatever that takes to get them moving,” she said, of the city’s police.