U.S. Marshal Adds 18 Deputy Agents in Fight against Pharmacy Robberies, Prescription Drug Abuse

By Gagnon, Dawn | Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME), July 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

U.S. Marshal Adds 18 Deputy Agents in Fight against Pharmacy Robberies, Prescription Drug Abuse


Gagnon, Dawn, Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME)


PORTLAND, Maine -- U.S. Marshal Noel March on Thursday afternoon swore in 18 Maine law enforcement officers as deputy federal agents to assist in the investigation of pharmacy robberies and prescription drug abuse.

The additional investigators are part of an effort to deal with increased pharmacy crimes and prescription abuse in Maine, U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II said in a news release.

In 2009, there were eight pharmacy robberies and burglaries in Maine, Delahanty said. In 2010, the total jumped to 21.

As a result of the increase, federal authorities were asked to help curb the problem. After a strategy was developed, pharmacy crimes appeared to have leveled off at 24 in 2011, Delahanty said.

The next year, however, the number of pharmacy crimes more than doubled to 58, Delahanty said.

"We are very fortunate that there have been no serious injuries reported in any of the cases even though there have been multiple incidents where guns and dangerous weapons have been used or displayed," he said.

In late 2012, the U.S. attorney requested federal assistance from the FBI because of the similarity to bank robberies and because they are violent crimes under the federal Hobbs Act. The Hobbs Act prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce.

So far this year, there have been six pharmacy robberies, Delahanty said.

"This is a drastic reduction from 24 at this time last year but with a substantial risk of injury, it is still too many," Delahanty said. "We cannot provide an authenticated reason for this decline but it is encouraging, except for the fact that it may be due to an increased supply and the greater availability of heroin and prescription drugs on the street."

With the cooperation of state, county and local law enforcement, the U.S. attorney is making stickers and signs available to each pharmacy in the state to alert the public and would-be robbers and thieves that crimes committed on pharmacy property will be investigated and prosecuted by local, county and state law enforcement, along with federal law enforcement and the Department of Justice.

Arrests have been made in all six pharmacy robberies this year. Law enforcement at all levels have taken the investigations further by pursuing associates of the person who committed the robbery, including friends who help plan the venture, friends who scout out the store and those who drive getaway vehicles, Delahanty said.

Cooperation and partnerships among law enforcement agencies strengthen investigations, he said, citing three recent notable cases:

-- In March, the Maine State Police helped the Yarmouth Police Department apprehend Dylan Libby of Bangor after he allegedly robbed the Yarmouth Rite Aid, rammed a police cruiser and then crashed his car on Interstate 295 after leading state troopers on a chase. …

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