Monday, December 12, 2005
Via our distinguished colleague Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla: Republicans are busy cutting Medicaid benefits, heating-oil prices are at a five-week high, and America's elderly, many of whom are on fixed incomes, are hard-pressed to make ends meet. Given the circumstances, is it any wonder law-enforcement officials find themselves overwhelmed by the sudden emergence of a startling new phenomenon unique in the annals of American crime -- the geriatric drug dealer?
Dottie Neeley, 87, was fingerprinted, photographed and thrown in jail, imprisoned as much by the tubing from her oxygen tank as by the concrete and steel around her.The nice thing about octogenarian drug dealers: when you kick the door down and yell "FREEZE," they're highly unlikely to dive out the bathroom window and vault over the neighbor's fence. And, since they usually drive at a maximum of 15 MPH, the car chases tend to be mercifully short.
The woman -- who spent two days in jail after her arrest last December -- is among a growing number of Kentucky senior citizens charged in a crackdown on a crime authorities say is rampant in Appalachia: Elderly people are reselling their painkillers and other medications to addicts.
"When a person is on Social Security, drawing $500 a month, and they can sell their pain pills for $10 apiece, they'll take half of them for themselves and sell the other half to pay their electric bills or buy groceries," Floyd County jailer Roger Webb said.
Since April 2004, Operation UNITE, a Kentucky anti-drug task force created largely in response to rampant abuse of the powerful and sometimes lethal painkiller OxyContin, has charged more than 40 people 60 or older with selling primarily prescription drugs in the mountains.