MOULTON, Ala. (WHNT) - Lawrence County authorities say they busted up an illegal drug ring that spanned three counties in North Alabama. Smaller, independent drug stores were the target where dozens of fake prescriptions were filled.
Investigators say Tamaja Sealey recruited drug users to walk into smaller, privately owned drug stores to fill fake and forged prescriptions for oxycodone.
"He'd actually pay for the script. They'd bring it back, they'd get 120 pills, he'd pay them a toll fee for going and getting it out of the pills. Then he'd take the rest of them," according to Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell.
And then he'd sell them for as much as $30 a pill.
Prescription drug abuse is the biggest drug problem in many communities, and it keeps pharmacists like Steve McLemore on constant guard.
"We see it weekly. You know, where some people have either forged or altered a prescription. We have procedures and security measures in place to combat it, but we see it weekly," McLemore explained.
Sheriff Mitchell says drug stores in Colbert, Lawrence and Morgan Counties were all victims of the scheme, using a prescription pad stolen from a doctor's office in Huntsville. Sealy is accused of altering the telephone number on those pads just in case a pharmacist wanted to call and verify a prescription. A former nurse would answer the phone and convince the pharmacist the prescription was good.
"It looks like its a pretty good sized operation," Mitchell told WHNT News 19. He added, "Obviously we're not through with it, we're going to continue working it and see where it goes."
Mitchell says the investigation actually began in Morgan County, and spread from there. An undercover agent posed as a drug user to get one of Sealy's fake prescriptions filled. Sealy was arrested when he attempted to pick-up the drugs. Mitchell says additional arrests are expected.