According to Ted Bramer, a local county prosecutor, the wiretap obtained in the police’s narcotic investigation was the first state-issued warrant in 23 years.
Although Bramer said he knew there was a chance the suspects would never be prosecuted, the time and cost of obtaining permission to tap were well worth the risk.
The task force had been investigating a particular drug ring since 2011 —after a postmaster informed them the suspects were receiving suspicious packages from out of state. Officials estimated those packages contained about 500 oxycontin pills every month.
And guess which dealers they were referring to? My freaking hook up.
It all started when my boyfriend and drug dealing partner, Brad gets a call from his mother. I tried not to listen, but when I hear her say the name Dee, my heart dropped. Dee was our guy. Brad’s uncle was a prosecutor (not Bramer), who happened to have a few friends at the local police department.
Apparently, the drug game was in overtime as the DEA finally obtained that search warrant for a particular drug circuit, one that Brad and I were connected too. Evidently, the cops had been taping all of our cell phones, monitoring our calls as well as our text messages. In short, these agents knew everything we were trying to hid. The police even had a diagram of how everything was managed —pill distribution-wise among the drivers, dealers, and sub-dealers.
They knew more than we ever did.
Shit was about to get real. Brad and I only sold to support our habit, you know the type. The police didn’t want us but they’d take us down just to get the guy or gal they did want. In this case, a guy —my dealer had a dealer who was the source. All things considering, we weren’t that far down. There were other addicts like Brad and me, dealing to stay high.
This is something the police definitely knew. I know they knew my name, my cell phone number, where I lived, who I texted, who I called, and how I was staying high. They even had our main hook up’s girlfriend taped who had nothing to do with any of this. I remember hearing Brad’s mom scream. I remember vividly how she hollered from the other end. I couldn’t freaking believe it.
But let’s back up a second.
You are about to experience somethin’ so cold.
Brad and I were small time. Like I said, we were only selling to support our habit. We didn’t know the specifics but we knew enough. We were doing over 900 milligrams a day. When you add it up, that’s a shit ton of money —not even including the fact that supply and demand sucked. Most of the pills in town were from out of state—either New Jersey or Florida.
As a result, the dealers had all of the power since these pills were hard to come by.
And so, they set the prices. Best case for singles, you would expect to pay less than $1 per milligram —normally around $15-20 per 30-milligram tablet, which was our drug standard. 30s, also known as blues or Roxicodone are similar to morphine and oxycontin (just like any other painkiller).
They were like gold those days and my favorite.
Price wise, the lowest I ever got a single blue for (not mass quantity) was $10. But that was in Florida, where these pills were all coming from. They were easier to obtain so normally the buyer had more power. In town though, they went for almost $2 a milligram.
Remember, they were being trafficked from another state so I understood why it was the way it was. I didn’t like it but I conceded. As a result, we had to increase our price to make a profit —as did most dealers. We could be nice and sell them at $25, but the norm was between $30-$35, which honestly is still high.
And in a really bad drought, we could knock it up to $40.
Most people were desperate for anything so they’d pay whatever we offered. Since we were buying in bulk, normally, we’d get a discount from the supplier. Anyone in the drug game knows, some days are easier and better than others. If our dealer got a deal from his dealer, they’d be lower. It all depends.
Each re-up, we would buy a couple hundred pills —give or take. Remember, the price goes down per pill when you buy more. So we were usually paying around $5-9 (per pill). Towards the end, it went up all the way to the $20s, which made the return difficult. In those times, we’d have to do fewer pills or we’d be short.
Meaning, we’d lose money.
In some cases, we were spotted and could pay after we sold them (which was risky to most) or we had to pay for each pill on the spot. All dealers and instances are different. We did have several dealers. I mean we needed to have multiple backups.
Sometimes, our main guy would be out and we’d go down the list. It was a freaking job, let me just tell you. And when no one would answer, OMG, it was the worst. Not only did we have our habit to support, we wanted to stay good for our customers so they’d keep coming back. If we were out for too long, they’d find someone else, just as we would.
It’s a freaking game, people.
But our main guy, Dee was kind of a friend. He was a member of the frat that my guy best friends created and then obviously joined. During my freshman and sophomore year, they were actually my BFFs. My group of girlfriends and I along with these particular frat boys hung almost every day for two years straight —not anymore though.
As I became more addicted, I hung out with them less and less —except for the ones that sold. They hated the idea of me getting high, but business is business. We had been friends but I felt like it was past tense, which I feel awful about today. I completely own the fact that the falling out was completely my fault. And I think it got to a point where it had just been too long. But there were a few that worked with Dee whom I stayed connected too.
Normally, when Dee was good, he’d give us a call for us to stop by. He’d call his other sub-dealers (people like Brad and me) too. We’d all come over at separate times, one by one to pick up our week’s supply. Dee’s source was some big-wig from up north (where most of these guys were from including myself) so they implemented a trafficking system to separate the parts from the whole to sell mad pills for a hefty profit.
Like any business, drug dealing too has a specific infrastructure and set of rules you must follow.
There was the driver who drove from our college town down south up to New Jersey and back in order to retrieve the pills from the source. Well not directly, the big-wig never left the house or spoke to anyone directly. He too had a team of drivers, dealers, and sub-dealer. In this case, his driver would meet ours to exchange the cash for pills.
Once the driver arrived back in town safe and sound, he would take them to Dee who would count the pills (money too if there was any) and then he’d distribute them accordingly. Dee didn’t do singles. He only sold bulk, which decreased the number of people he had to see, which meant less house traffic —a good thing. When you deal small time, like Brad and I, you have to meet more people who normally buy a few at a time, multiple times a day.
But it allowed us to keep using so we charged any uncertainties to the game and snorted anyway any anxiety beforehand.
I will say, it was risky because you have to meet in random parking lots or either of your houses. We always preferred for people to come to us because driving with them produced a whole other set of worries. Except, Dee had an idea to help us get more for less.
As a shorty, I looked up to the dope man
The days went by and everything was pretty much the same. We’d normally skip class to stay high and post up at a friend’s house.
That friend normally got high too and so they’d let us sell inside, which made everything so easy. Our clients would come over and chill for a bit, which meant they’d snort their pills as soon as they got it, wait a little so it didn’t look obvious. Then, they’d leave and we’d wait for the next.
At the time, it was the perfect set up.
But like I said, some instances Dee would be out and if it was a really bad day so would our backups. We were pretty good at conserving pills if we were running low. The thing was, we didn’t ever want to get there. But since we were snorting so many, we had to sell that much more to keep everything up.
Then we heard Dee’s plan*. He needed another driver —except, no one would be driving. We’d be flying. His source wanted to grow the business a bit more (because complacency still exists in the drug world). They would set everything up so all we needed to do was retrieve them and go home.
Dee even had the money worked out so we didn’t need to carry cash. He was to wire the dough directly into the source’s offshore bank account as soon as he heard from us. Once we had them in hand, we’d send him a text cryptically. At this time, the epidemic wasn’t nearly as bad as it is today, so airports and such were lax-ish on drug control.
So we boarded the plane and hoped for the best.
The first few times went down without a hitch. We actually couldn’t believe how easy it was. We’d fly from a small airport in town (which had barely any security) all the way to West Palm Beach, Florida where pill mills were everywhere. Florida was even laxer on their prescription drug laws so doctors were literally handing these things out like candy and with a surprisingly high amount of pills in each refill (like 100-260; normally it’s only 30).
I believe the main source had several doctors on his payroll who would write him and his associates’ legal prescriptions. They’d then fill them at corresponding pharmacies and sell them like I described above. I think it’s crazy because all of these pills were essentially legal but in reality, they are just like heroin (quite literally). The only difference is the actual word prescription.
Anyway, once we arrived in WPB, we’d rent a car, drive to the pre-specified location and wait. Prior to us getting there, the source’s runner would go to a bunch of pill mills and pain clinics, get the prescriptions, fill them and come to us. Normally, they’d get us a cheap motel where we’d stay the night and then fly back the very next day.
I remember being scared.
I’m usually always paranoid even if I’m doing anything wrong, but this time I was. I definitely had a reason to be afraid. Except, we never got caught. We’d spread the real prescriptions in our checked luggage and keep one in each of our carry on bags.
The most “genius” part of it all was that since the guy had these doctors in his pocket, they could write any name of the prescription bottle. As a result, they would use multiple names that were somewhat familiar with ours —that way, it looked like we were carrying the prescription for a family member, which at the time, I guess wasn’t abnormal? I don’t know.
Somehow, it worked.
Well, until it didn’t. After about 10 times and almost $30,000 later, we told Dee we were done. Brad and I talked about it. We figured it was best to quit while we were ahead. We’d continue selling in town but we couldn’t make these state-wide trips anymore. The truth was, we really couldn’t because of class and Brad’s parents. They were confused as to why we were always going out of town (Brad was a townie so his parents lived down the street and for a while, we actually stayed there with them).
Like I said earlier, Dee was somewhat of a friend. And so, he respected our decision and found someone else. But this isn’t where the story ends. Remember, we were still selling as normal and making bank. The bread we got from flying really jump-started our motivation to keep going.
Cause there ain’t no to tuition for havin’ no ambition
The weeks continue. The main source’s driver proceeds to meet Dee’s runner to exchange the money for pills like they did once every week —except, we were about to find out that this would be the last time it would ever go down. The driver on our end was supposed to arrive back in town on a specific day at 6:00 a.m. where Dee would then divey up who got what as normal.
Those frat boys I spoke about, all lived together, like seven-ish of them, right down the street from Dee. They pretty much all sold drugs too. Remember, they were my best friends (in another life). In my new one, we’d only text about potential deals. Like if Dee didn’t answer, we’d call one of them to see if they knew where he was and vice versa.
Honestly, though, they knew Brad and I were doing more pills than we let on. I think they disliked him because of this. To them, he was a bad influence on me. I get it. And since my old girlfriends were still friends with these boys, I assumed they spoke about what I was up too. In short, they all knew more of my story than I was willing to tell.
Except, they left out the part about them selling and using the same drug as me.
Regardless though, the police were closing in (quite literally). Like as soon as the driver pulled up to Dee’s house, at 6:01 a.m., they swarm the place. Remember, they had all of our phone’s taped and knew the driver was expected home at 6 with a shit ton of pills.
As all of this was happening, we were asleep at my apartment. Luckily, we had nothing to do with trafficking anymore and since we were small time, they really didn’t want us. They didn’t even want Dee but he was the closest to the top. I will say, the frat boys, well, they had other side projects going down that the police were suspicious about too.
The agents only wanted the main supplier —Dee’s source, the big-wig, who we literally called “The Source.”
Fortunately, we had already scored. Dee had been out since he was waiting for this big shipment so we went with one of our backups. We were celebrating something (nothing) and ended up getting extra. I think we even got a deal that day. Needlesstosay, we didn’t need to pick up for a while. And thank GOD for that.
We don’t care what people say.
The next day, we wake up to this article in the local newspaper.
Seven college students were arrested Wednesday on drug-dealing charges following an investigation by the Valley Drug Task Force. Johnny Sours, 21, of Rhode Island, and Emit When, 20, of New York, were each charged with possession of oxycodone with intent to deliver. Bond was set at $60,000 and $30,000, respectively. Hunter Op, 22, of New York, and Jack Redson, 19, of New Jersey were each charged with possession of Xanax with intent to deliver. Op’s bond was set at $30,000. Redson’s bond amount was unavailable Wednesday evening.
Neil Kelling, 22, of New York, and Ben Watts, 20, of Rhode Island, were each charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. Kelling’s bond was set at $30,000. Watts’s bond amount was unavailable Wednesday evening. Doug Keets, 20, of New York, was charged with possession of Xanax and oxycodone with intent to deliver. His bond was set at $70,000.
All seven men were “associated and connected” in a Valley Drug Task Force investigation that began in late 2010, according to a press release. The investigation involved the possession, distribution, and transportation of several controlled substances, also including suboxone and anabolic steroids. The arrests were made after task force agents —including officers from the Local Police Department and the County Sheriff ‘s Department —executed search warrants at four residences downtown. The First Special Response Team and a K-9 unit assisted at two locations.
An undisclosed amount of drugs and cash was seized at each location, according to the press release. Additional charges are pending. According to criminal complaints, Police said Sours and When had a “large quantity” of pills in a black metal safe and a bottle, respectively, along with cash in denominations common in drug sales.
Police said Keets had individually-packaged prescription pills, digital scales, and ledgers. He shares the same address as Sours and When. Police said Kelling had marijuana that was individually packaged and cash in denominations common in drug sales. Criminal complaints about the remaining men were not available in time for this report.
According to the student directory: Sours is studying business, Keets is studying advertising, and Kelling is studying philosophy. When, Redson, and Watts are majoring in pre-med respectively. Op was not listed in the student directory, although a Valley Drug Task Force press release identifies him as a university student.
Wow. What started as a tip from an observant postmaster turned into the successful federal prosecution of a drug ring spanning from south Florida to North Jersey that I in some way had been a part of. The actions of this drug ring brought in $17,000 worth of oxycodone a month, and now, it was gone. It was a hard adjustment.
The sad thing was, I don’t think we ever stopped using.
We just found different people and “safer” ways to deal. It was later revealed that the law enforcement officers from across the entire state spent 13 hours a day for 35 consecutive days listening into the phone calls of the drug ring members.
Clearly, Brad’s mother was pissed and rightfully so. I mean, she basically just found out that every time we said we weren’t high, we were lying —otherwise, her phone call would not have happened. She called just a few days prior to the big bust, which was why we had picked up more than usual —we figured it’d be dry for a while.
And we were right. Brad’s uncle even spoke to the police on our behalf after the bust who said as long as we kept a low profile, we would be okay. His family thought that meant we’d quit. But it wasn’t that easy. We had no intention of getting clean, but we had to at least try (or pretend too).
Boy was it hard to keep a low profile when everyone was still hitting us up.
Customer: hey can i bring u $35 and then bring u another $35 tomorrow so i can get at least one today. i don’t want my mom seeing me pull out one lump sum of money so ill come back first thing in the morning. whatever u want. i’m about to leave here, hit the bank then ill b over. is that cool?
If you know an addict, you can pretty much bet that the text (above) was a lie. They’d say anything to convince a dealer to spot them, which I can attest too. Somehow, we figured out a way to keep everything up. We would only sell to our main customers whom we trusted. Brad and I both bought untraceable track phones. We moved. We found a new dealer —not in this circle and did what we could to get by.
The days were all the same.
We would do enough to not feel sick, sell pills in between classes and then we’d re-up about once a week with our new supplier who lived in another town. Meanwhile, all these kids were kicked out of school, back home at their parent’s house awaiting trial.
Brad had just gotten into medical school. He wanted me to join him. Was I going to go? I couldn’t ask anyone for advice because at this point, everyone was mad at me and rightfully so.
But I didn’t need to worry about that right this second. Instead, I got high.
And you’ll later find out, this story doesn’t end for another five years. I decide to not join Brad at school, which was definitely the right move for me in the long run. Except right now, I was in sunny Florida with no one to look out for me. I try to get clean but my failed attempts at pretending just bring me further to my knees.
I continue to battle addiction in Boca all alone.
I pawned everything of value and eventually, I resorted to stealing, which led me to rehab multiple times. And, what happened next? Well, I’m here now with almost five years sober. My path was anything but easy. Except today, I understand that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s green where you water it. My life changed dramatically but in the end, I found myself all over again.
I’m a new girl because of it too.
And the mountains, well —they know all of my secrets. It might take time, it might be hard, but if you hold on long enough, you will find the strength to rise.
*names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.