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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
August 5, 2005

Pharmacist Arrested Trying To Sell Prescription Drugs For Cash And Car

William J. Renton, Jr., Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New Orleans Field Division, announces the arrest of Roland T. Watts, a pharmacist of Batiste Drugs, 6621 West Bank Expressway, Marrero, Louisiana. Members of the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad (TDS) arrested Watts after learning that he was attempting to sell a large quantity of prescription drugs for cash and a vehicle. Watts was charged in the 24th Judicial District Court with illegal possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance and illegally obtaining a legend drug.

On August 3, 2005, members of the DEA Task Force received information that Roland Watts of Batiste Drugs had ordered a quantity of controlled substances, 7,000 dosage units of Hydrocodone, 1,000 dosage units of Carisoprodol, and 500 dosage units of Lorazepam from a pharmaceutical distributor. Watts ordered these drugs after the pharmacy’s DEA registration had expired on July 31, 2005. The pharmacy was also closed and out of business at the time Watts ordered the drugs. When the shipment of drugs was delivered to Watts at Batiste Drugs by UPS, the drugs were seized and Watts was placed under arrest and advised of his constitutional rights.

Special Agent in Charge Renton, Jr. stated that, “Watts is a criminal drug dealer who used his position as a pharmacist to violate the public trust. He will no longer be in a position to place the citizens of metropolitan New Orleans in harm’s way. Illegal use of prescription drugs can have lethal consequences and DEA will continue to target those individuals that divert pharmaceutical drugs into the illicit market. Drugs are diverted a number of ways, through pharmacy robberies, prescription forgeries, fraudulent Internet sales, and in rare instances, like this one, through authorized registrants.”

At the time of his arrest, Watts gave a voluntary statement to members of the TDS stating that he had, in fact, ordered the drugs. Watts informed TDS agents that he planned to sell the drugs on the street because the pharmacy was out of business and that he was unemployed and needed money. Watts stated that he had planned to trade the drugs for $5,300.00 and a vehicle. The drugs seized at the time of Watts arrest have a street value of $65,000.00. Watts told investigators that he had sold quantities of drugs on previous occasions in the past year. According to invoices, on June 23, 2005, Watts ordered 1,000 dosage units of Carisoprodol (Soma); on June 24, 2005, he ordered 6,000 dosage units of Hydrocodone; on June 27, 2005, he ordered 2,000 dosage units of Hydrocodone; on June 29, 2005; Watts ordered 2,500 dosage units of Hydrocodone and one pint of Hydromet Syrup containing Hydrocodone; and on July 8, 2005, he ordered 6,000 dosage units of Hydrocodone. Watts admitted diverting these drugs, which have a street value of approximately $108,000.00, into the illicit trade.

This investigation was conducted by the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad which consists of DEA Special Agents, Diversion Investigators, and members of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, New Orleans Police Department, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office, Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the Kenner Police Department. Prosecution of this investigation will be conducted by the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office.

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