MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Narcotics investigators in East Tennessee arrested a Chicago woman on Thursday after she allegedly attempted to use a fraudulent prescription to buy codeine cough syrup. The prescription drug has become a highly-sought substance on the black market with a single pint selling for hundreds of dollars.
Jasmine Alexandra Bee, 24, of West Chicago, Illinois, is being held on bonds totaling $40,000 pending a hearing in Blount County General Sessions Court at 9 a.m. July 21. Bee is charged with four counts of prescription fraud.
On July 15, law enforcement officers in the 5th Judicial Drug Task Force were alerted to a business where a woman was attempting to obtain promethazine with codeine using a fraudulent prescription.
Investigators took Bee into custody as she was attempting to leave the store. During the course of the investigation, more fraudulent prescriptions and prescription pads were found in Bee’s vehicle.
Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong said deputies are seeing an uptick in activity related to codeine. In March, investigators arrested a woman from Chicago who attempted to use a fraudulent prescription. In May, investigators seized eight pints of cough syrup containing promethazine with codeine during the execution of a search warrant.
Officials say the powerful cough syrup sells for between $250 and $400 a pint, and in larger cities, it can sell for even more.
Codeine and other opioids present a high risk of fatal overdose due to their effect of depressing the central nervous system, which can slow the heart and lungs. Mixing it with alcohol greatly increases risk, causing respiratory depression, organ damage and, in some cases, death.
“Thankfully, the relationships that our law enforcement community has built over the years with our local businesses allow us to stay alert to individuals attempting to pass fraudulent prescriptions,” Berrong said. “Our opioid overdoses and overdose deaths are at an all-time high in Blount County. Any arrest we make that keeps illegal and abused substances out of our area and other jurisdictions is a win.”