MANATEE — Officials say piles of prescription medicines that would be worth many thousands of dollars on the illicit drug market were safely transferred Tuesday to law enforcement during an event dubbed “Operation Medicine Cabinet.”
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with Home Instead Senior Care, conducted the event at Bradenton’s Westminster Towers and gathered from the public boxes full of prescription medicine.
Residents by the dozens dropped off boxes and bags full of unused and unwanted prescription medicine, much of which would be worth a pretty penny on the street. The medicine will be documented into evidence by the sheriff’s office, then destroyed.
Home Instead also sponsored the event to provide residents another option to dispose of their pills other than down the toilet or in trash cans, which has long been noted as an environmental hazard, according to company owner Lisa Herlache.
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Herlache and sheriff’s officials marveled at how many participated in the event.
“We are so shocked and pleased at the turnout,” Herlache said. “We have gotten more than we could have imagined.”
Deputies received dozens of pill bottles of morphine, hydrocodone, roxycodone, oxycodone, and dozens of other dangerous and addictive drugs if not taken properly. The final amount dropped off by more than 50 people filled two garbage bags and two large bins.
Sheriff’s Lt. Lorenzo Waiters pointed to two bottles filled with hundreds of hydrocodone pills that are worth between $20 and $50 per pill on the street. He said prescription medicine over the years have become a favorite target for burglars.
“If these drugs fell into the wrong hands they could make a killing on the street,” Waiters said. “It has been busy today, and that is a good thing.”
After five back surgeries, Bradenton resident Bill Schippnick had a stockpile of unused and unneeded pain pills prescribed to him over the years, and with nowhere to get rid of it.
Schippnick said he did not want to flush them because they would end up in the water supply, or if he dumped them in the trash they might end up in the wrong hands.
Last week, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office conducted a similar event in which 350 people turned in 277 pounds of medications at six locations in Sarasota.