LEXINGTON, N.C. -- This week, Davidson County deputies completed a three-month undercover drug operation, called "Hand 2 Hand with the Man." It resulted in a total of 243 charges being filed against 54 people for the illegal sale of prescription pain pills.
"It is our number one problem in Davidson County now," said Sheriff David Grice. "This is a nationwide problem, which has been going on for a number of years, not just here, obviously throughout the country, we're no better or worse off."
Grice said most of the charges involved Opium derivatives like Oxycodone and Oxymorphone. He also said the development of more powerful pain pills and their widespread use makes them easy to get, and many get legitimate prescriptions and resell the pills for up $80 each.
"We see a lot of people doing doctor shopping," he said. "They'll go to this doctor and the doctor will prescribe the medication, then they'll go to another doctor in another town."
Grice says that some of the suspects knew each other, but it wasn't an organized drug ring. He also said some where making a living sell the drugs, but said it's not directly related to the economy.
At last word, 41 of the suspects had been arrested and charged. Some had first appearances Friday in Davidson Superior Court. Grice said it's the county's largest every prescription drug sweep.
Authorities and drug counselors said this is a problem that extends down to the high school level, and the family medicine cabinet is often where those drugs are being found.
"Parents, your grandparents, you need to keep up with your medication and also, you need to be very conscious of the medication, if it's prescribed to you," said Grice.
One drug counselor told News 14 Carolina that overdoses are a weekly occurrence in the Triad. Grice said prescription drug abuse is an ongoing problem.
"We're going to continue what we've been doing, doing undercovers, and whenever we interact with these people and they don't have a prescription, they're going to get charged," he said.