UPDATE 4/29/13 @ 10:55 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Charleston pill dealer faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday in federal court to distribution of oxycodone, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.
On Oct. 3, 2012, law enforcement officers with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department executed a search warrant at the Charleston residence belonging to Eric Simmons, 27.
During the search of Simmons’ residence, police seized approximately $35,410 in cash, two rifles, two handguns and 872 30-milligram oxycodone pills.
Simmons had previously sold 10 30-milligram oxycodone pills to a confidential informant working with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department in exchange for $300. The illegal pill transaction occurred at the parking lot of the Ivy Motel, located along MacCorkle Avenue in Charleston.
Simmons regularly sold prescription painkillers in and around Charleston for $30 to $35 per pill.
The cash seized from the defendant’s residence was proceeds collected from illegal prescription pill transactions.
The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department says it’s all part of a long investigation into the pill pipeline: pills coming into West Virginia from Detroit, Florida and Columbus.
It’s a growing problem that’s frustrating for police to deal with but are working around the clock to help put a plug in it.
"Big money. Big money. It's a very lucrative business," said Cpl. F.E. Flowers, Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department.
And a big problem in the mountain state. $36,000 in cash, 900 oxycodone pills and guns confiscated in Kanawha City. Now Eric Simmons is behind bars.
"It wasn't totally surprising but it does catch you off guard when you see that amount of money just laying around," said Flowers.
Sheriff’s deputies believe Simmons was getting his pills from out of state and then selling them in West Virginia. Part of the long running drug pipeline that starts with pill mills in Florida and Georgia and runs into the mountain state. But the most notorious source for supplies, Detroit, and that’s where deputies believe Simmons was scoring.
"It's easier to get their hands on it in the south,” said Flowers. “You know you got pill mills which they just constantly write out scripts. Detroit, they're getting their pills wherever they're getting them from, you know Canada or wherever and then they can bring them down here and sell them for more then they can get up there."
Selling pills and increasing crime in the valley. The problem, though, is putting an end to it.
"When we figure out the way they're doing it, then they're changing their mode of operation and then we have to learn that manner in the way they're doing it,” said Flowers. “So it's just a cat and mouse game."
A game deputies hope to win, now one step closer after this most recent bust.
Simmons is behind bars. His bond is set at $100,000.
Deputies arrested Eric Simmons. They say Simmons had 900 30mg pills when he was arrested. Deputies also seized just over $35,000 in cash, some marijuana, a shotgun, a rifle and two pistols. They also took Simmons' computer.
Deputies say the pills have an estimated street value of $35,000.
Deputies say the arrest is part of an on-going investigation into pill trafficking from Detroit to Kanawha County and West Virginia.
Simmons will be video arraigned Thursday morning.
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