Investigators say they would drive almost 300 miles round trip to pick up their supply of prescription pain killers in New York for distribution here in Maryland. But months, if not years, worth of surveillance, wire taps and undercover work ended in the parking lot of the Comfort Inn Suites in North East on Sunday.
"They were one of our larger, if not the largest suppliers at this time of illegal prescription drugs out there hitting the streets," said Lt. Lee Dunbar, of the Harford County Task Force.
Lt. Dunbar said efforts to crack down on the availability of the drugs has driven up the price, making it that much more profitable for such criminals, "they're typically about a $1 per milligram."
"So on a 30 milligram pill, the street value of that's going to be about 30 bucks, sometimes a little higher, maybe a little bit lower, but they're getting it for a lot less than that," Dunbar said. "They may be getting these pills for $12 or $15 a pill and flipping that same pill for 30 bucks."
Jennifer Blais, 24, of Havre de Grace and her boyfriend, Antoine Times, 33, of Brooklyn, NY, now face a series of drug trafficking related charges. Police say they found 900 oxycodone pills in a condom in Blais' possession.
Members of the drug task force say the market for the pain killers ranges from teens to the elderly; typically people who have become addicted to opiates because of injury.
As measures to crack down on illegal prescription pills have driven up the price, many addicts have turned to illicit street drugs, and investigators are now fighting this war on drugs on two fronts.
"We do know we have a two-headed monster on our hands right now and what we're doing [is] we're going out and attacking heroin too," Dunbar said .
In addition to the Cecil County busts, police also arrested another suspected drug dealer, Evan Strong, who they say had cornered the market for the pills in Harford County.