Hitting Home: Sheriff's Son Held on Drugs
Illegal dealing in prescription drugs, an ever-growing problem in Moore County, has hit close to home for Sheriff Lane Carter.
His son was among three people arrested this week on charges of trafficking in prescription drugs. Deputies arrested Seth Cameron Carter, 21, of 260 Cameron Ave., Vass; his girlfriend, Tara Frances Craven, of the same address; and Bobby Gene Allen Sr., who was living at the Motel 6 in Aberdeen, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office.
Lane Carter said Thursday that he had been aware of the investigation and that his son was involved.
"He's my son, and I love him," an emotional Carter said. "He's got a problem. I'll try to help him as best I can. It breaks my heart. I am his dad, but I am also the sheriff, and he violated the laws of North Carolina. These boys (narcotics officers) did their job."
Seth Carter has previous arrests for possession of marijuana and driving while impaired several years ago.
"He has a problem, and he has had it a long time," his father said.
All three of the suspects arrested were charged with three counts of felony trafficking in opium, felony conspiracy to traffic in opium, felony possession with intent to sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance (Endocet pills), felony selling a schedule II controlled substance, felony delivering of a schedule II controlled substance, and felony conspiracy to sell or deliver a schedule II controlled substance.
Seth Carter and Craven were arrested Tuesday. Both were jailed, with bond set at $50,000 each. Allen was arrested Wednesday and jailed under a $100,000 bond.
'A Real Problem'
The arrests are the result of an investigation conducted by officers from the Sheriff's Office Narcotics Unit. During the investigation, officers purchased and seized 19 dosage units of Endocet prescription pills, the news release said. Endocet is a schedule II controlled substance. The estimated street value of the pills seized is $190.
Capt. Jerrell Seawell, who heads the Narcotics Unit, said the arrests are the latest in a growing number of cases of unlawful trade in prescription drugs.
We've got a real problem with prescription drugs in this county," Seawell said.
"We've seized thousands of pills over the years. The greatest threat is to young people because it is so highly addictive. The Sheriff's Office has been very proactive in fighting this problem. We have been more aggressive."
Carter said he has assigned a detective to work solely on prescription drug cases. He said he could use another detective to help handle all the cases.
Seawell and Carter said local enforcement officers need better access to medical records to combat the growing problem of what is called "doctor-shopping," in which someone obtains multiple prescriptions for the same drug.
Such medical information is currently protected under federal privacy laws, known as HIPA. Right now, officers must go through the State Bureau of Investigation to obtain that kind of information, a process that can slow investigations.
They also want state laws changed to require proper identification before pharmacies fill prescriptions.
"Right now, people can get prescriptions filled for Oxycontin, Percocet, Endocet and other narcotics without presenting identification," Carter said. "That needs to be changed."
Seawell said what makes this such a difficult problem is that these are legal drugs that wind up on the street illegally. These pain killers can be obtained through such means as forging of prescriptions and doctor-shopping, Seawell said.
'A Vicious Cycle'
Lt. Darren Ritter with the Narcotics Unit said selling the pills can be lucrative. He said someone with insurance can obtain 30-60 pills with a copay of $5 to $10 and then sell the pills for $5 to $7 apiece.
There have been break-ins and robberies at several pharmacies in which the thieves stole pain killers, according to Carter. Some can be brazen. In one case, the suspect drove up to a Vass pharmacy on a
four-wheeler and robbed it, he said.
"It is a terrible, terrible problem we are facing," he said.
Seawell said it cuts across socio-economic lines, and involves people of all ages and gender.
"It affects teenagers on up to senior citizens," he said. "It is a bad situation."
Ritter added, "People are dying from this. "We are arresting a lot of people. They are better off waking up in jail than not waking up at all."
Seawell said many families in Moore County are dealing with the same situation Carter now faces with his own son.
Carter said he hopes that in the case of his son, this will be a wake-up call.
"It's a vicious cycle," he said. "It is just a bad situation. He went down the wrong path. We will try to get him some help and get him on the right path."
Contact David Sinclair at 693-2462 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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