Drugs on Baltimore streets could keep it high 'for a year,' Batts says

Baltimore's police commissioner says drugs on city streets could keep it 'intoxicated' for a year.

With April's looting, an extraordinary amount of drugs were stolen from pharmacies — more than initially believed, officials said Wednesday.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts on Wednesday said police were working with federal partners such as the Drug Enforcement Administration to seize more than 175,000 "units," or doses, of prescription drugs looted from 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics when unrest erupted April 27, in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custody weeks earlier.

"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."

Batts' comments came the same day that Rite Aid said looting at its locations included prescription drugs, as well as the theft of personal medical information.

DEA Special Agent Gary Tuggle said even more drugs have been stolen than reported. About 40 percent of the looted pharmacies have not finished counting losses, he said.

There is no evidence that personal information found on stolen prescriptions has been used for fraud, pharmacy and law enforcement officials said.

Still, Rite Aid officials said the chain has hired the risk management firm Kroll as a precaution "to alert impacted customers via a letter of notification and share with them the proactive measures it has taken to guard against identity theft."

Federal law requires organizations bound by medical privacy laws, such as pharmacies, to disclose breaches of customer data. The organizations have 60 days to notify customers of such breaches, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

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