Narcotics investigators have seized 80,000 pills of addictive painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin, and arrested a west Modesto man whom they suspect participated in a pharmaceutical drug ring.
Louis C. Bland, 74, of Modesto was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possession of drugs for the purpose of sales and committing a felony while being armed with a gun, Modesto police Sgt. Rick Armendariz said Wednesday.
The Modesto police Narcotics Enforcement Team also found a rifle and three handguns at the home in the 1900 block of Donald Street, a few blocks south of Robertson Road and east of South Carpenter Road. Armendariz said one of the handguns was loaded and near Bland when he was taken into custody.
He said the investigators had information a suspected drug dealer had been selling prescription drugs. The investigation led them to the Donald Street home, where they served the search warrant Tuesday.
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When the investigators entered the home, they discovered the large stash of Vicodin, methadone, morphine and OxyContin pills. These pills often are prescribed for moderate and severe pain.
Armendariz said Bland is suspected of trafficking the pills, and evidence gathered at the home suggests Bland had a longtime involvement in selling the drugs. The narcotics investigators estimated the street value of Vicodin is $3 a pill, methadone is $10, morphine is $20 and OxyContin is $30.
Armendariz said the pills contain very addictive opiate drugs and have a similar effect to heroin. The investigators say the pills have become popular among teens and young adults.
When the investigators entered the home, Armendariz said, Bland's phone was constantly ringing, indicating he had plenty of buyers. He said the cost of prescription drugs on the street will push users to theft to pay for their habit.
"They'll trade things like iPods, stereos and anything else they can steal," Armendariz said. "They'll wheel and deal for these drugs."
The investigators say they will continue to follow leads and tips in this case.
"Oftentimes, drug investigations are aided by concerned citizens who report suspicious activity in their neighborhoods," said Sgt. Al Brocchini, a supervisor of the Narcotics Enforcement Team. "These tips have been very beneficial in helping us identify and arrest suspected drug dealers."
Residents who want to report suspicious drug activity and wish to remain anonymous can call the Modesto police Drug Hotline at 571-3784.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2394.