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Man is arrested in OxyContin thefts

O.C. sheriff's officials suspect he is part of a ring behind up to 30 pharmacy burglaries.

October 03, 2008|Mike Anton | Times Staff Writer

A man suspected of being part of a ring that stole about 100,000 doses of the drug OxyContin in as many as 30 Southern California pharmacy burglaries has been arrested, Orange County authorities said Thursday.

DNA evidence gathered from blood left at the scene of an August theft at a Walgreens in Mission Viejo led police to Brian Allen Richard, 26, of Long Beach, said Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino.

Sheriff's investigators suspect that Richard was "part of a well-organized ring of people," Amormino said. "They knew exactly where the stuff was, and were in and out in less than two minutes."

OxyContin, a prescription pain medication, has become a popular street drug in recent years. Authorities recovered none of the pills stolen in the thefts in which Richard is suspected of playing a part. Most of the stolen pills probably sold for $35 to $40 each with some more powerful dosages going for $100 each, Amormino said.

At $35 a pill, the haul would have been worth $3.5 million.

"This arrest will definitely put a dent in the supply of OxyContin on the street," Amormino said.

The pharmacy burglaries began in June and continued into September. They included six in Orange County and others in Fontana, Long Beach, Palm Springs and San Bernardino.

Richard was arrested Wednesday night at his girlfriend's San Bernardino-area home. He was being held without bail at the Orange County Jail.

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mike.anton@latimes.com

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