Users Resort To Drug Store Robberies After Heroin Bust, Tulsa Undercover Officer Says

Thursday, January 9th 2014, 6:17 pm
By: News On 6

The Department of Homeland Security and several local agencies spent three years investigating an international organization selling heroin in Green Country.

They arrested six people and took nearly a million dollars in heroin off the streets.

But that has created a new problem.

Heroin is made from morphine, which is a powerful pain killer.

When Oklahoma began cracking down on prescription painkillers, many people turned to heroin, officials say.

Now that 10 pounds of heroin has been taken off the streets, police say some of those people are desperate and turning to robbing pharmacies.

Heroin often is smuggled inside little balloons, and those running the show can make $15,000 a day.

"We discovered they were buying a half a gram for $60, which is about the size of a Skittle," an undercover drug officer told News On 6 in this exclusive report. "Some users will use up to five of those a day."

The officer, whose identity is being protected, is one from several agencies who worked for the past three years to infiltrate an international organization that brought heroin to Tulsa County and sold it on the streets.

He said the group was organized, had savvy surveillance skills and an endless supply of labor, so if one dealer gets arrested, another immediately takes his place.

"This thing was very problematic trying to take this thing down. Crazy," he said.

Officers started by busting small-time dealers and worked their way up the chain of command.

What shocked the officers most is the type of people they found doing heroin -- doctors, lawyers, dental hygienists, professionals.

"You wouldn't suspect these people," he said. "These are your sons, daughters, these are good people in the community that you would never imagine to be involved in this type of drug. It's a sickening drug to be hooked on."

It shows in photos of users in Tulsa County who have shot up so often, they have hardly any skin left to stick a needle. But they keep shooting up even into their open wounds.

Coming off the drug is excruciating, which makes people desperate and dangerous.

"They will do anything to get the money to get that next shot in the arm," the undercover officer said.

That's why he believes there's an increase in pharmacy robberies lately. Four Walgreens have been hit in the past couple of weeks.

He says people can't get their heroin because of the bust, so they resort to robbery to get whatever painkillers they can.

Officers say a lot of these heroin drug deals took place in expensive neighborhoods, so if you see a car or people who don't belong in your area, call 911.

The office of U.S. Attorney Danny Williams is prosecuting these cases.

They say five of the six arrested were in the country illegally.