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Police chief: drugs fueling murder rate in Baltimore

Up to 175,000 doses or narcotics are for sale on the street, he said.

By Ed Adamczyk
A man walks past a CVS that was looted and burned during a protest at the corner of West North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
A man walks past a CVS that was looted and burned during a protest at the corner of West North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

BALTIMORE, June 5 (UPI) -- Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said an increase in violence can be attributed to drugs looted from pharmacies during the city's riots.

Rioters protesting the April death, in police custody, of Freddie Gray, a Baltimore man, looted at least 27 pharmacies and drug clinics. Up to 175,000 doses of narcotics are now for sale on the street, Batts said, adding the amount is "enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year. That amount of drugs has thrown off the balance on the streets of Baltimore."

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With the excess amount of drugs comes violence between gangs, as well as by independent drug dealers, seeking to sell the suddenly-excess inventory. Among the drugs looted were controlled narcotics including fentanyl, oxycodone, amphetamines, Adderall, hydrocodone, morphine and tramadol, and with a saturated market and limited customer base, competition among drug dealers is leading to turf battles.

Baltimore experienced 42 homicides in May, the highest total in a month since 1971.

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"The uptick we are seeing, quite honestly, is the fact that they have space now and they are out and they've got the ability to deal drugs, and some feel they can deal with impunity," Drug Enforcement Agency agent Gary Tuggle told WBAL-TV, Baltimore.

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The crisis comes at a time of a perceived slowdown by city police to make arrests, caused by a lack of leadership.

"I know that the police officers have lost confidence and respect for their commander. Unfortunately and crazily, police officers are actually telling average citizens, 'We're not doing all of the extra things that we used to do, we're not doing it and we're not doing it because we're upset with our leadership,'" City Council member Carl Stokes told CNN.

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