Region 8 city sees meth arrests down, but prescription drug abuse increasing

SENATH, MO (KAIT) – Senath police chief Omar Karnes says crime within the city involving methamphetamines has decreased, but has been replaced by a rise in the sale of prescription drugs.

Chief Karnes wants to remind residents that illegal drug use of any kind has consequences.  "If you get caught you're going to get charged," he said. "People are selling pills, trading pills. It's a quick high."

Karnes said prescription medications such as pain killer hydrocodone and anti-anxiety pill alprazolam (trade name Xanax) have become drugs of choice in the past year. "I've seen approximately 30 to 35 pounds of pills that people turned in."

"(One) particular batch is stuff that people turned in. One of the parents we talked to said they realized some pills were missing. They got to looking and one of their children had taken several of them."

Chief Karnes said Kennett, MO, which is nine miles south of Senath is a hot spot for transactions. Harris Pharmacy owner Darren Harris takes precautions to make sure the prescriptions filled in his pharmacy in Kennett don't end up in the wrong hands. "When someone comes in that we don't know, that we're not sure, with narcotics we always call and verify. We're going to call the doctor's office to make sure this person is who they say they are."

"If something looks out of the ordinary, it's a dosage that maybe they're supposed to be getting 12 pills and the patient may have written a one beside it and tried to get 112, we see some of that sometimes."

Harris said his pharmacy technicians have had to notify law enforcement on a few occasions when people attempted to fraudulently obtain a controlled substance. "If you just got something four days ago, you can't come back the next day and get some more of it."

To curb the problem, the Senath police department keeps its prescription drug take-back program going year round, and offers help to people who want it. "I got help lines for people that want to get off of it that are hooked."

But Karnes said people also have to help themselves. "Know what you have, know where it is. Have a certain area, a locked box that you control. Don't just leave them sitting around."

Anyone with questions or information regarding the illegal use of prescription medication should call the Senath Police Department at 573-738-2818.

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