BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) - An Elizabethtown drug store sold enough oxycodone pills through May of this year to supply every man, woman, and child in Bladen County with nearly ten pills, according to court documents.
The exorbitant number of pills being sold at Anderson's Drug Store, located on Poplar Street, was one reason why agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration performed an administrative inspection of the pharmacy Thursday morning. Crime scene tape surrounded the store while investigators took an inventory of its medications.
Gene Anderson, the owner of the drug store, declined to speak after the store was reopened around noon, however, a woman who identified herself as his girlfriend claimed the inspection was a routine audit.
"Gene is cooperating with the DEA," she said. "We welcome the DEA anytime. This was a pill audit, and Gene wants the public to know he understands the opioid crisis is very real but has no time to participate in that."
The woman also stressed that Anderson, who has owned the store for more than 40 years, has done nothing wrong. Bladen County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Larry Guyton confirmed Anderson was not taken into custody.
However, federal court documents indicate the DEA has been investigating the pharmacy since at least mid-July.
According to an affidavit in support of the administrative inspection, Anderson's Drug Store sold more than 365,000 oxycodone pills in 2017 and has sold 317,950 as of May 31 of this year.
"This pharmacy is also within a mile of two other pharmacies on the same street who sells less than half of the total amount of oxycodone that Anderson's Drug Store sells," the affidavit states.
In July, investigators met with a "source of information" who said the pharmacy allows patients to send a photo of their prescription in a text, and it would be ready for pickup when they arrived, according to the affidavit.
The court document also notes that the drug store has never been inspected by anyone at the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"[I]n view of the above-stated circumstances, the need for the inspection herein applied for is requested for the purpose of protecting the public health and safety, and the need for copying and verifying the correctness of inventories, records, reports and other documents required to be kept under the Controlled Substance Act, resulting from a valid public interest in the effective enforcement of the Controlled Substance Act and implementing regulations" the affidavit states.
Investigators did not seize any property as a result of the inspection.
Though not mentioned in any documents or confirmed by any officials, Anderson's girlfriend said Anderson's Drug Store is where some patients of Dr. Jong Whan Kim would bring their prescriptions to get filled. Kim is accused by Columbus County prosecutors of running a $3 million "pill mill" operation out of his offices in Tabor City.
A call to the local DEA office has not been returned.