Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

December 15, 2008

Three arrested in Boyd Co. drug bust

CATLETTSBURG — Three more local men were arrested over the weekend for selling prescription drugs that were prescribed for them by Florida physicians.

Phillip L. “Foo” Gauze, 42, James T. Sullivan, 45, and Fredrick “Shannon” Justice, 25, all of Ashland, are each facing one count of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance charges.

The three were arrested just after midnight Sunday at Gauze’s residence in the 400 block of 31st Street after Boyd County sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at the home.

Police seized more than 500 oxycodone pills with a street value of approximately $11,610. Boyd County Sheriff Terry Keelin said all the drugs had been prescribed by Florida physicians.

The majority of drug trafficking arrests in recent months have had a Florida connection, according to Keelin. “This is the Florida connection. That is what this is all about. They are coming back with large amounts and then turning around and selling them. This is just a typical kind of day,” he said.

“We have an epidemic here,” he said.

The situation has been made worse by inexpensive flights from Huntington Tri-State Airport to various Florida locations, especially Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, where there is a high concentration of pain clinics.

Keelin said the sheriff’s department regularly receives information from the public about trips being made to Florida. He said his agency is also working closely with Florida authorities to catch traffickers.

“We’re going to go after any drug dealer in Boyd County,” Keelin said. He encouraged the public to continue to report suspected drug activities to the department. “If they know someone that is going, let us know and we’ll try to bust them. We’ll go after them.”

Keelin said although Florida law enforcement authorities are working hard on the problem, more pressure needs to be applied to strengthen the laws. He said there is nothing illegal about the prescriptions individuals are receiving until they begin selling the drugs.

Keelin said he believes the doctors prescribing the medications should be tried for murder. “Charge them with murder and give them the death penalty. They are committing murder. They are killing our citizens one pill at time.”

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