Arrests have been made at three local convenience stores in recent weeks, for the alleged sale of illegal prescription drugs. The medications were allegedly being sold at La Sierra, at 58 West Church Street in Selbyville, Danny’s Pizzeria on 48 N. Main Street in Selbyville and at Taco Town at 34051 DuPont Boulevard in Frankford.
During the mid-August raids, the Delaware Division of Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement (DATE) seized prescription-style drugs and substances, more than 500 bootleg DVDs and approximately $88,000 in cash, officials said.
“It all started with a routine visit that one of our agents made,” said Lt. Kevin Jones, DATE operations supervisor, who oversees statewide enforcement. “It was discovered that one of these businesses in Selbyville were selling prescription medication over the counter. An arrest was made there … and then we learned that there were several other locations that were doing the same thing.”
After obtaining search warrants, DATE agents raided three locations simultaneously, seizing prescription drugs, DVDs and cash.
“Antibiotics, birth control, injectable medications. … They were non-controlled substances; they weren’t like codeine or those controlled painkillers,” Jones explained.
“From what I understand,” he said, noting that he’s not an investigator, “a lot of their clientele is the migrant worker community. A lot of the people will buy their medications that way instead of going to a normal pharmacy. I guess that’s what they’re used to doing,” Jones surmised.
A client could approach the counter with an injury or infection, he offered, and an employee would dispense the medicine, without a prescription.
DATE agents did some undercover purchases this way.
“Some people might say, ‘What’s the big deal?’ But when people are able to just walk in and get prescription-level medication without any medical advice,” medicine might react badly with an existing medical condition, Jones said. “Those laws are put in place to protect people.”
DATE must also determine who is manufacturing the medications, which could have come from anywhere.
The “obviously bootleg” DVDs were just noticed during investigations.
“The covers appeared to be printed on a home printer, like four recent movies on one DVD,” Jones said.
Depending on the severity of the crimes and Attorney General’s Office’s plans, Jones said the pharmacy operations and counterfeiting may be a felony. But none of the businesses have been closed as a result.
“There’s always due process that these people are entitled to,” Jones explained. “State statute does not allow us to arbitrarily shut down a business. That decision is ultimately made down the road in court,” unless the crime is particularly egregious or location is unsafe for the public, he added.
Oscar B. Jimenez, 35, of Ocean City, Md., was charged with Operating a Pharmacy without a License; Delivery of Non-Controlled Prescription Medication; Delivery of a Hypodermic Syringe and Trademark Counterfeiting for operations at La Sierra. He was held on $5,500 unsecured bail.
Isela Delgado, 31, of Ocean City, was charged with Operating a Pharmacy without a License; Delivery of Non-Controlled Prescription Medication; and Delivery of a Hypodermic Syringe, for operations at Taco Town. She was held on $4,100 unsecured bail.
Damian D. Garcia, 31, of Frankford, was charged with Operating a Pharmacy without a License and Delivery of Non-Controlled Prescription Medication for operations at Danny’s Pizzeria. He was held on a $1,500 unsecured bail.
Investigation into the matter is still ongoing. The two months of investigation leading to the arrests included DATE agents, Delaware State Police, Delaware Department of State Division of Professional Regulation, Delaware Probation & Parole and Milton Police Department, which provided an officer to serve as a translator.