Police placed a padlock on the entrance of Caffey’s Pharmacy in Prichard Tuesday after the owner was accused of illegally distributing the narcotic drug codeine.
A three-week investigation revealed 54-year-old Donald Scarcliff sold codeine out of his shop to area individuals, even without prescriptions, for illegal, street-level distribution, MPD spokeswoman Ashley Rains said.
In an undercover video released by MPD on Tuesday, Scarcliff can be seen selling what officials say to be seven bottles of codeine. Scarcliff can also be heard telling a man not to deal the drugs near his shop and instructing him to do his dealing “away.”
The Mobile Police Department’s Narcotics Unit and Mobile County Street Enforcement Narcotics Team along with the Prichard Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Alabama Board of Pharmacies all joined together to execute the operation.
Both Mobile Police Chief James Barber and Interim Prichard Police Chief Michael Rowland praised the multi-agency effort in working together during the investigation.
“We believe that this is going to send a strong message to business owners within the City of Prichard that if you’re going to do business, do legal business,” Rowland said. “If you’re not going to do legal business, don’t do business at all. Especially don’t be involved in the drug trade. We believe this is a victory for law enforcement.”
Rowland continued to highlight the importance of partnerships, stating no one agency has enough resources, money and manpower to eradicate drugs in the community.
“Inter-agency cooperation played a major role in this operation,” MPD Police Chief James Barber said. “A local pharmacist, a trusted medical professional, deceived our community by putting controlled narcotics on the streets. We are sending a message that there is no safe haven for criminals, regardless of jurisdiction.”
Prichard Mayor Troy Ephraim, who was also present on the scene, said officials are very well pleased with the efforts and that these things are not “happenstance” but rather operations that are well founded on tips and thorough investigation.
“True to form, the City of Prichard is following through with its zero tolerance for criminal negligence in our communities,” he said.
Bystanders outside of the pharmacy at 3707 St. Stephens Road on Tuesday were shocked to learn about what took place, and Caffey’s customers were even more surprised to learn they could not pick up their prescription medication.
“I come up here all the time,” Labaron McIntosh, who showed up at Caffey’s to pick up his kidney medication, said. “All my medicines are over here. I have never, ever seen him do anything illegal. That surprised me. It probably surprised everybody.”
As Scarcliff was lead by police to a patrol car, he denied selling any narcotics illegally but said he was “very sorry.”
“I have prescriptions that I fill for my customers, and [I’m] glad to be able to do those. And I am sorry that I’ve got to this point,“ he said.
In addition to Scarcliff’s pharmaceutical license being revoked by the Alabama Board of Pharmacies and his business being shut down indefinitely, he will also face three counts of distribution of a controlled substance, Rains said.
“Today, we have actually closed Caffey’s Pharmacy due to illegal dealing of codeine cough syrup,” Rains said. “But, something we wanted to let the public know [is] if you are a customer at Caffey’s Pharmacy, all you have to do is call your doctor. They can send your prescription to another pharmacy, one that actually does legal business within the City of Prichard and the City of Mobile, and nothing should be interrupted … the pharmacist, Mr. Scarcliff is not allowed to be a registered pharmacist and will not be able to dispense any pharmaceuticals from this location or anywhere else.”