Nine businesses busted on charges of illegal prescription drug sales
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@cherokeetribune.com
October 22, 2010 12:00 AM | 8298 views | 11 11 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cherokee County Deputy Cliff Murray prepares a woman to be searched who was the arrested during Operation Alex, a sting that involved 17 arrests for selling dangerous drugs and for operating without a pharmacist’s license at nine county businesses, all of which cater to the Hispanic community.<br>Cherokee Tribune/Pam Dabrowa
Cherokee County Deputy Cliff Murray prepares a woman to be searched who was the arrested during Operation Alex, a sting that involved 17 arrests for selling dangerous drugs and for operating without a pharmacist’s license at nine county businesses, all of which cater to the Hispanic community.
Cherokee Tribune/Pam Dabrowa
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Nine Cherokee County businesses have been busted for allegedly selling prescription medication illegally.

The businesses, all of which are small grocery stores that cater to Cherokee's Hispanic community, are accused of selling antibiotics over the counter.

The Cherokee Multi Agency Narcotics Squad collaborated with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Georgia Drug and Narcotics Agency on Thursday morning to execute nine search warrants. Seventeen people were arrested in connection to the sting.

Stores hit with a search warrant were: Cabana Grocery at 9740 Main St. in Woodstock; El Trebol Supermarket at 10350 Main St., Suite 110 in south Cherokee; Super Mercado La Villa at 6158 Highway 92 in southwest Cherokee; Los Nortenos at 5681 Bells Ferry Road in southwest Cherokee; La Piedad at 6501 Highway 92 in southwest Cherokee; Panderia Gloria's Bakery at 5902 Bells Ferry Road in southwest Cherokee; El Huerta Tienda at 231 Riverstone Parkway in Canton; Tienda Y Carniceria Mi Pueblo at 180 Riverstone Parkway in Canton; and Miselaneas San Rafael at 555 Marietta Road in Canton.

Those arrested and charged were: Candelario Pelayo, possession of a dangerous drug; Jesus Pelayo, possession of a dangerous drug; Jose Veroin-Pelayo, possession of a dangerous drug; Fernando Velasquez-Lopez, possession of a dangerous drug and schedule II drug codeine; Juan Loaraca, possession of a dangerous drug; Marcelo Delgado, possession of a dangerous drug; Orlando Rodriguez, possession of a dangerous drug; Henry Tobias, operating a pharmacy without a license; Jose Espindola, possession of a dangerous drug; Mercedes Arteaga, possession of a dangerous drug; Glenda Arriaga, possession of a dangerous drug; Gisela Mendoza-Silva, operating a pharmacy without a license; Veronica Ibarra-Guzman, operating a pharmacy without a license; Lily Mazariego, operating a pharmacy without a license; Carmen Gayardo-Jimenez, operating a pharmacy without a license; Regina Delgado-Cruz, possession of a dangerous drug; and Maria Tobias, possession of a dangerous drug.

Store managers and owners arrested were charged with misdemeanor possession of a dangerous drug and those dispensing the medication were charged with the felony of operating a pharmacy without a license, said Phil Price, CMANS commander.

Drugs recovered from the sting were antibiotics like penicillin, said Sheriff Roger Garrison. Codeine was found at Micelaneas San Rafael in Canton.

While it's not a scheduled narcotic, antibiotics, used to treat bacterial infections, are a controlled substance that only can be obtained from a licensed pharmacist with a prescription from a licensed doctor.

No prescription pain medication or other illegal drugs were sold at the stores, Garrison said. The stores, he added, were stocked "like a regular drug stores."

Antibiotics, Garrison said, can be lethal if not properly taken.

"Again, it can be just as dangerous... if given to children in inappropriate doses," he added.

The sheriff noted no complaints of possible overdoses or deaths have been made to the sheriff's office in connection with the illegal sales.

Side effects of antibiotics include nausea, diarrhea and, rarely, drowsiness, said Chris Stevens, a pharmacist at Cherokee Custom Script Pharmacy in Holly Springs.

Stevens said long-term use and higher dosages of antibiotics can kill friendly bacteria in a person's gastrointestinal tract, which can create digestive problems. Long-term use also can create antibiotic-resistant strains that are hard to treat, such as the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) that plagues hospitals and some schools.

Also, taking antibiotics passed its expiration date can drastically reduce the medication's potency.

Garrison said they received a complaint four months ago about antibiotics being possibly sold in a store in Cherokee. CMANS, in conjunction with ICE and the state narcotic agency, launched "Operation Alex," and conducted undercover buys at the nine stores.

The sheriff added it's unknown where the drugs came from or why the stores were selling antibiotics.

Garrison speculated the demand of the drug could be a sign of the times, as "a lot of scrutiny" has been placed on illegal immigrants using public services such as emergency rooms.

The stores, said Canton Police Chief Jeff Lance, are set up like convenience stores and have "everything" a shopper may need.

Lance, who is the chairman of the CMANS Control Board, said the selling of such drugs over the counter could prove hazardous to a person's health for another reason.

As someone who is allergic to penicillin, Lance said using handing out drugs such as antibiotics without proper, prior approval could cause people to "die or get sick."
Comments
(11)
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anonymous
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October 25, 2010
the bottom line is that they were not authorized to sell this medicine. period. i dont see why everyone is making such a big deal. They commited a crime, so they were arrested. end of story.
Concerned Citizen
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October 24, 2010
The big issue raised but not addressed by this story is the lack of affordable healthcare. It is deplorable that in the wealthiest country in the world people can't afford the doctor's office visit to get the medicine they need to be well. These were people selling things to get people high. They were humanitarians whose crime was selling antibiotics to people who couldn't afford a doctor. Shame on Congress for not giving us National Healthcare.
anonymous
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October 24, 2010
OK, WELL LET ME ASK YOU THIS LINDA80398 WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF LIVED IN A COUNTRY WHERE YOU WERE PAID $10 PER DAY AND PRICES FOR CLOTHING AND FOOD WERE CLOSE IF NOT THE SAME AS HERE IN THE U.S. AND YOU HAD A WIFE AND KIDS, COULDN'T GET A VISA AND YOUR APPLICATION FOR LEGAL RESIDENCE TAKES ATLEAST 10 YEARS TO PROCESS???.. WOULD YOU RISK YOUR LIFE TO CROSS A BORDER TO A COUNTRY WHERE YOU'RE NOT WELCOMED AND YOU DON'T SPEAK OR UNDERSTAND ANYTHING FOR A CHANCE TO FEED YOUR FAMILY???.. I HOPE YOU DON'T CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN!! REAL CHRISTIANS ARE DON'T MAKE IGNORANT COMMENTS LIKE YOURS.. WE EDUCATE OURSELVES.. LOVE AND ACCEPT EVERYONE..RACISM IS NOT HAS NO MEANING TO US.. INSTEAD OF LOOKING FOR SOMEONE'S MISFORTUNE.. WE HELP AND PRAY FOR LESS FORTUNATE PEOPLE AND GIVE THANKS FOR ALL WE HAVE.. READ YOUR BIBLE SOME TIME.. MAYBE YOU'LL LEARN A FEW THINGS ABOUT OUR GOD AND HOW HE WANTS US TO LIVE...
archibaldQ
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October 22, 2010
In Europe you can buy any of these so called prescription drugs at a drug store at a price about 90% cheaper than the US. They don't have a problem with it. Precriptions in the US are just used to suggest greater value and to justify higher selling prices for the Drug Companies.
FR90662
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October 22, 2010
Yes! I agree with us getting some of our pain killers in order to avoid the emergency room visits which result in outrageous bills or even worthless Doctor's that don't really care to hear what really is wrong. But anyway there's so many illegal things going on everywhere and it is NOT only illegal immigrants that do illegal things, so it would really be appreciated if people would stop criticizing the illegals! They are great people!
hater 2
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October 22, 2010
You defend these law breakers by playing the RACECARD nice!
Rick the hater
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October 22, 2010
Roger garrison is just doing his job enforceing the law and i dont know how you think illegals are saving me money. I perpared myself for adult hood and can pay my owm bills.The high cost of health care and poor school performance is directly reladed to illegals.If you dont like cherokee county just move. Mexico has room .
lucyattci
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October 22, 2010
Good! they got so many people with possession of dangerous drug (antibiotics). What about the honest citizens on possession of not so dangerous drugs like cocaine or marijuana...This was an illegal aliens raid, don't try to cover it. You can say they were doing the right thing, but at least be honest and call it by its name
John G
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October 22, 2010
Cherokee County has shown its racist side once again! Why were only the Hispanic stores targeted? That's per se discrimination and everything that is the fruit of this discrimination should be inadmissible as evidence in court. Why was the ICE called in? Are we to assume that because they are Hispanic, they are illegal? I hope some good lawyer gets involved and exposes this BS racism. Why are we allowing our money to be spent on this? Sheriff Garrison...you are a racist and have shown your true colors!
mark wh------d
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October 22, 2010
thank god for these stores.I have bought antibiotics from them. and saved the taxpayers alot of money.Instead of going to the emergency room and getting treatment that i could not afford.I go to my local tienda and get the meds i need.And i dont have to worry about a bunch of my fellow citizens crying about not paying for services i received at the hospital.Some of the same people that complain about the illegals are the same ones that do what i avoided doing by not going to the hospital.And i do this because i know i cant afford to go to the hospital.Now what i dont understand is why the police cant make some big bust on all the coke thats here in cherokee especially canton. I see it all the time.please quit crying about the illegals if it werent for them you couldnt afford to eat.their the ones doing those jobs for next to nothing.You couldnt sleep because thier the one that built your house that the builder saved thousands of dollars on by using immigrants.People need to wake up and think about were we are and how we got here.HATERS
Linda80398
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October 22, 2010
How many of these people are illegal immigrants? Will that be addressed or investigated? Will we deport them if they are "undocumented"? Will we do what we have to do to stop their return to the US? In my opinion this is another aspect of the problem of illegal immigrants and how little is actually being done to stop the drain of American resources by people who should not be in this country. Wake up, Georgia politicians, and pass stronger laws regarding illegal immigrants instead of kow-towing to a community whose few "legals" might send votes your way!
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