While America watched Baltimore burn, then clean up and then fade from the national conscience in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custody, April’s looting will have a lasting impact on the city. And not just for police-citizen relations.
Over the course of the riots an extraordinary amount of drugs were stolen from pharmacies, far more than officials initially believed.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said earlier in June that police were working with federal partners such as the Drug Enforcement Administration to seize more than 175,000 doses of prescription drugs looted from 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics during the unrest.
“There’s enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” Batts said. “That amount of drugs has thrown off the balance on the streets of Baltimore.”
Yet DEA Special Agent Gary Tuggle suspects even more drugs have been stolen than reported. Which makes sense given that 40 percent of the looted pharmacies have not finished counting losses, according to the DEA.
Drugstore chain Rite Aid has hired an outside risk management firm, Kroll, “to alert impacted customers via a letter of notification and share with them the proactive measures it has taken to guard against identity theft.”
Though according to law enforcement officials the crimes seem strictly about the drugs – there has yet to be a report of any identity theft as a result of the thefts.
Federal law requires organizations such as pharmacies, to disclose breaches of customer data. The organizations have 60 days to notify customers when a breach occurs, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
What remains certain is that for the next year or two, Baltimore will have more than just high murder rates to contend with. It is now awash in prescription painkillers that, acquired for free, will be sold cheaply to many. Their highly addictive nature will likely plague the city for years to come.