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PHARMACY ROBBERY $5,000 INVESTIGATIONAL TRIGGER BEING RE-EXAMINED

Executive Summary

PHARMACY ROBBERY $5,000 INVESTIGATIONAL TRIGGER BEING RE-EXAMINED by the Justice Dept., the agency's Deputy Asst. Attorney General (Criminal Div.) James Knapp recently wrote Natl. Assn. of Retail Druggists (NARD) Exec VP Charles West. Knapp, who drafted the pharmacy-crime guidelines as a basis for launching investigations under the 1984 Controlled Substance Registrant Protection Act, said his office "will be consulting with the FBI in the near future to re-examine the appropriateness, vel non, of the $5,000 trigger." The law itself provides for prosecution of suspects in robberies involving controlled substances with a minimum of $500. The guidelines include the $5,000 limit as one threshold for federal investigation of pharmacy robberies. In his letter, Knapp noted complaints from pharmacy groups that few pharmacies stock $5,000 worth of controlled substances. If it "is true" that few pharmacies stock $5,000 worth of controlled substances, Knapp wrote West, "the particular guideline would obviously not be relevant or helpful in determining what cases should or should not be investigated by the FBI." In connection with Justice's re-examination of the $5,000 figure, Knapp urged West to submit to his office "any data which you may have concerning the amount (and replacement value) of controlled substances normally stocked by retail pharmacies." Knapp promised: "We will certainly consider this information when drafting any revisions to the investigative guidelines." Knapp noted that "the presence or absence of this guideline is unlikely to have much practical effect on the total number of cases investigated by the FBI since most potential cases are already investigated by it." Knapp's July 29 letter was in response to a letter from West to Attorney General Edwin Meese III. West wrote Meese: "If a retail pharmacy exists that maintains a controlled-substance inventory in excess of $5,000 acquisition cost, our experts would be amazed and the DEA ]Drug Enforcement Administration[ would be interested in it as a possible drug diversion investigation target."
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