Ingrid Moerbe, 73, a resident of the Fulton Elderly Apartments on Hill Street, was arrested on April 10 and charged with one count sale of the prescription drug Lortab.
Following her arrest, Moerbe was given an initial appearance before Justice Court Judge Barry Davis. She was issued a bond in the amount of $1,000 and is currently out of jail.
If convicted, Moerbe faces a sentence of up to three years imprisonment.
According to Fulton Police Chief Reggie Johnson, Moerbe’s arrest was the result of a two-month investigation by the FPD, the Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department and the local narcotics unit.
Johnson said his investigators had received reports of prescription pill sales being conducted at the Fulton Elderly Apartments, which led to a couple months worth of undercover work.
The police chief said more arrests may be made in the near future.
“We’re going to become more aggressive in arresting people who sell prescription pills,” he said. “We’re going to be more aware and when we get information, we’re going to be more aggressive.”
The illegal sale of prescription medications has become a rapidly growing problem in Itawamba County, the police chief said, citing the ease with which people can “doctor shop,” the practice of seeing several doctors in order to obtain numerous prescription medications, as one of the potential causes of the crime’s rise.
“Prescription medicine abuse is just exploding right now,” Johnson said, adding that thefts related to prescription medications are also on the rise.
“People don’t realize that that bottle [of prescription medicine] they’ve left in the cabinet can be obtained and sold to someone else,” he said.
Lortab, which is usually prescribed to help alleviate moderate to severe pain, contains a combination of acetaminophen and the opiate hydrocodone. Some of this narcotic’s side effects include euphoria and sedation; acetaminophen can increase these effects, making Lortab a popular prescription drug for recreational use and abuse.
Johnson said mixing such a drug with alcohol can be especially dangerous.
“It can be a deadly mix,” he said. “If you’re taking Lortabs and mix it with whiskey and coke, you may pass out and never recover.”
Although it’s easy to feel sympathy for the suspect because of her age, Johnson stressed that the consequences of the crime remain the same.
“You have to think about your child — what if she were selling those pills to your child and getting him or her hooked on them?” the police chief asked.