Speedy robbers target D.C. pharmacies

WASHINGTON – Police are asking for help identifying a group of masked criminals who are storming into area pharmacies and operating with ruthless efficiency.

So far in January, three pharmacies have been robbed: Flexcare and Grubb’s pharmacies in Southeast D.C., and Morton’s on Capitol Hill.

In surveillance video from the Jan. 17 robbery at Grubb’s, three men can be seen bursting through the front door, one with a gun already drawn. He then jumps the counter with another man and holds a worker at gunpoint.

The robbers didn’t hesitate and moved with rapid precision.

The men took cash and prescription drugs, believed to be painkillers. Pepper spray was also used in the attack.

Police say similar armed robberies happened at Flexcare on Jan. 3 and at Morton’s on Jan. 23.

D.C. Police say they have seen a recent spike in robberies at pharmacies.

Barbara Carreno, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, says a DEA crackdown on shady clinics and rogue online pharmacies has made painkillers harder to come by. In turn, that has driven up the street value of these prescription drugs and made them more appealing targets for criminals.

“The price of these drugs on the street has risen very high, to a dollar a milligram,” Carreno says. “You can pay $40 to $80 for a pill.”

Carreno says the problem of prescription drug misuse is widespread, and the DEA has put increasing focus on it in recent years.

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John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

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