By now Jesus Franco must be wishing he could have a “do-over” of the past month. The owner of the Bangkok Paradise, a downtown Salem, Massachusetts restaurant has had some difficult negotiations with the Salem Licensing Board following a number of alcohol fueled incidents in the downtown area that required considerable police action.
Two street fights, one with over 100 participants and a knifing were said to have started with altercations among drunk patrons of the Bangkok Paradise. The licensing board altered the restaurant’s entertainment license, mandating the end of any entertainment by 11:00 instead of the previous time of 12:30 AM for the next six months.
But all of this is minor compared with last week’s events. In a region wide drug bust, Mr. Franco was arrested on charges of distribution of Oxycodone. He was charged with two counts of trafficking and released on $50,000 cash bail. Five other local residents were also arrested and received similar charges.
Opiates like Oxycodone, Vicodin and Percocet have been a big problem on the North Shore.
The dealers seed the marketplace with these pills, offering them for free at first and then requiring payment. As they are quite expensive ($80 for a 80 mg tab of Oxycontin), an addict usually leaps at the chance for something that is cheaper and provides a stronger high. That is how people end up using heroin. Heroin on the North Shore is plentiful, high quality and cheap. It is flowing in through the ports along the coast despite law enforcement efforts to intercede.
The pills come from other sources. One is the medical community. Many doctors seem to believe that their patients should never feel any pain, for any reason under any circumstances. Prescriptions for Vicodin and Percocet are too readily available under these circumstances. A second source are the pain management clinics in Florida. It is apparently quite easy to obtain prescriptions for pain in Florida and there are many “clinics” that are too eager to fill these prescriptions. Dealers on the North Shore will send “mules” down to Florida to make the rounds of these clinics and drive back to the area with a trunk full of pills. Between these two sources, the North Shore has an over-abundant supply of very addictive opiates that serve to set the user up to graduate to Heroin use eventually.
Getting the dealers off the street is one way to address this problem. Stricter over-sight of medical prescribers and clinics in other states would help as well.