Sunday October 4th, 2015 11:20AM

21 accused in NYC of selling meds on Craigslist

By The Associated Press
NEW YORK - The Craigslist ad offered Percocet pills for sale, but warned: "No LE please." Meaning: No law enforcement.

Like that made a difference.

The 40-year-old man accused of placing the ad was among 21 people arrested in an attempt by the New York Police Department to make an example out of some of the smallest of small-time drug dealers: students, young professionals and others who clean out the medicine cabinet and then are brazen enough - and foolish enough - to offer the pills for up to $20 a pop over the Internet.

"Whether the drug deal occurs on the street corner or on the Internet, it's a crime," Bridget Brennan, special narcotics prosecutor for New York City, said Thursday in a statement announcing the arrests.

Undercover narcotics investigators answered the ads and ended up buying handfuls of powerful prescription painkillers and other pills for a few hundred dollars, typically in broad daylight and in public settings such as coffee shops, Penn Station or Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

Some of the sellers turned out to be run-of-the mill drug dealers also peddling cocaine and heroin, police said. But many were more mainstream: Among those arrested were a New York University graduate student, a financial adviser and a 62-year-old woman who works as a freelance photographer.

The pills came from the sellers' own meds or were stolen from relatives, friends and co-workers, authorities said. Some of the dealers were out to make a quick buck - even though their backgrounds would suggest they didn't need the money.

The arrests come as law enforcement agencies around the country battle a surge in illegal sales of highly addictive painkillers like Percocet and Roxycodone and, increasingly, attention-deficit drugs like Adderall - transactions that now rival the cocaine and heroin trade both in volume and as a public health hazard.

Because the drugs have legal medical uses, they carry less of a stigma than illegal narcotics. After they were arrested, some of the sellers claimed they didn't know what they were doing was a crime. But investigators don't buy it.

"You'd have to be living under a rock to not know it's illegal," Brennan said.

Brennan's office reached out to San Francisco-based Craigslist earlier this week to try to get its cooperation in finding ways to discourage the Internet marketing. A Craigslist spokeswoman had no comment Thursday.

The undercover investigators began answering Craigslist ads late last year. By the time they were done, they had made 63 buys - about $19,000 in pills and $10,400 in cocaine.

One ad was placed by a self-described "friendly NYU student." It offered "pain and anxiety relief." Just in case there was any confusion, it signed off with "perc roxy." And a smiley face.

A criminal complaint accused Anthony Vargas - the Manhattan man who politely asked police not to respond to his ad - of meeting the same undercover officer four times over the summer near Union Square to sell dozens of oxycodone pills. Vargas, 40, was sentenced to nine months in jail on Wednesday after pleading guilty to criminal sale of a controlled substance, prosecutors said.

Despite the enforcement effort, the advertising continued unabated on Thursday.

One posting from someone in New York City read: "Hello ladies and gentleman. If your in pain and need assistance look no further. I've got 30 (mg) ways to help!! ... Not affiliated with any sort of law enforcement? If ALL of these pertain to you, email me with what your looking for (quantity) and we will work it out."
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctors: Blood clot located in Clinton's head
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton developed a blood clot in her head but did not suffer a stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said Monday. They say they are confident that she will make a full recovery.
3:55PM ( 2 years ago )
Illinois Sen. Kirk to return a year after stroke
Nearly a year after a stroke left him barely able to move the left side of his body, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is expected to climb the 45 steps to the Senate's front door this week - a walk that's significant not just for Illinois' junior senator, but also for medical researchers and hundreds of thousands of stroke patients.
3:54PM ( 2 years ago )
U.S. News
UN is next stop for Obama after success with Iran, pope; top issues are IS, Syria, Russia
NEW YORK (AP) — Fresh from successes on Iran and with the pope, President Barack Obama still carried heavy burdens into critical meetings this week at the U.N. General Assembly.They include the threat...
3:31PM ( 6 days ago )
Stunning Congress, House Speaker Boehner announces plans to resign; tea party declares victory
WASHINGTON (AP) — Plunging Congress into deeper turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner abruptly announced his resignation Friday, shutting down a tea party drive to depose the nation's highest-ranking Re...
6:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Tornado heavily damages 10 homes but causes no injuries on island in South Carolina
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A tornado quickly blew through a neighborhood on the South Carolina coast early Friday and blew out windows, knocked down trees and heavily damaged ten homes.The tornado touc...
5:08PM ( 1 week ago )
Caterpillar says it may cut more than 10,000 jobs by 2018, lowers 2015 revenue expectation
Caterpillar is planning another round of job cuts that could exceed 10,000 people through 2018, as the construction and mining equipment maker adjusts to downturns in key markets.That could amount to...
10:06AM ( 1 week ago )
Escaped tarantula grounds Atlanta-bound flight in Baltimore
An eight-legged creature that escaped in the cargo hold of a passenger flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International grounded the plane and sent passengers onto another flight.
By The Associated Press
9:06AM ( 1 week ago )