19 arrested in prescription drug bust

19 arrested in prescription drug bust »Play Video
LONGVIEW, Wash. -- Federal law enforcement officials say they've made a significant drug bust in Cowlitz County, arresting 19 people for investigation of selling prescription drugs illegally.

Of those arrested, seven have been indicted on federal drug charges.

Investigators say that while some of those arrested knew each other, they were not operating as a coordinated drug ring.

The suspects allegedly received prescription pain killers from family members, stole them, or lied to doctors to obtain prescriptions.

"I honestly believe that's why this is the biggest growing drug problem not just in Cowlitz County, not just in Western Washington but in the entire country," said U.S. Attorney Jeffery Sullivan.

Doctors at the county's largest hospital say they are seeing more teens admitted to the emergency room for overdosing on prescription drugs that alcohol or other drugs.

Sullivan said that in the last 30 months, 40 people have died in Cowlitz County from prescription drug overdoses.

"Some of the defendants indicted today were dealing drugs near schools, some were forging prescriptions or selling medications from their own prescriptions," he said.

Investigators said undercover officers were able to purchase oxycodone, hydrocodone, dilaudid, and methadone during the course of the eight-month investigation.

Jason M. Thomas, Richard L. Bopp, Daniel J. Fisher, Laura T. Macalalad, Julie A. Schoonover, Bo J. Storedahl, and Baron I. Lohner, have all been charged with various drug offenses and are being held at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Wash.