City Combats Violence Fueled By Stolen Drugs From Riots | WYPR

City Combats Violence Fueled By Stolen Drugs From Riots

Jun 4, 2015
Originally published on June 4, 2015 8:57 am

Federal and Baltimore law enforcement officials say enough drugs were looted from pharmacies in the riots in late April to keep the city high for a year.  And they are still counting.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said at a news conference Wednesday that 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics were looted during unrest following the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died of injuries in police custody. It was initially reported that 17 pharmacies were looted.

Since then, violence has spiked in the city, with 43 murders in May, the most since the 1970s, and dozens of non-fatal shootings.

However, officials are not calling it a drug war.

"Part of [the violence] is connected to turf battles between gangs and independent drug dealers," said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gary Tuggle, " You also have a new source of and new sort of inventory of drugs on the street that people have to sell and their selling to a limited number of people."

Batts announced the formation of a task force to bring state and federal charges against "individuals that committed crimes, harmed our officers and broke and looted our businesses in our city."

He also requested more federal prosecutors and agents to assist the city in its fight against violence and additionally asked the U.S. Attorney's office to add a federal felony  gun charge to cases so it can qualify for federal prosecution where sentences, if convicted, are tougher.