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Dave Roepke, Published May 07 2010

Pill bust hailed as Clay’s largest

Police found nearly 4,500 prescription pills in a bust in Moorhead described by authorities as the county’s largest ever for illegal pills.

“We were up pretty late counting them,” Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said of the 4,471 pills police say they found in a search warrant executed on Wednesday morning at unit 201 of 1310 28th Ave. S.

Two Moorhead teenagers face felony drug and possession of stolen property charges in connection with the raid: 18-year-old Jasmine Joy Bentley and 19-year-old Damion Paul Profitt.

Bergquist said he expects the suspects to be formally charged as soon as today.

Dean Ernst, police chief in Barnesville, said the search warrant came as part of an investigation of two pharmacy burglaries – one in late February and another in late April – at City Center Drug & Hardware in Barnesville.

Ernst said police suspect the pills found Wednesday were obtained in those two burglaries, but the break-ins remain under investigation.

Police also seized about $8,100 in cash, Ernst said. With pills running about $1 per milligram, the street value of the drugs was about $63,000, police said.

Ernst said the pills were of a wide variety – mostly painkillers – and were sorted into plastic bags noting the drug type and weight.

“It wasn’t a grab bag,” he said. “They were basically running a pharmacy out of their house.”

Bergquist said prescription-pill abuse is becoming a greater concern for police in the area, but arrests are typically at a much lower level.

“It’s always been more of a possession thing,” he said.

Moorhead police Lt. Tory Jacobson said it was the recommendation of one of the department’s narcotics investigators that spurred Moorhead to place a drop-off box for pills at the city’s police station.

Jacobson said pill abuse is a particular challenge for drug investigators due to the legal routes in which the pills can be bought and possessed as medicine.

The anonymous drop-box program, announced just a week ago, has seen some use, Jacobson said.

“We’ve already had quite a few deposits,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535