"Hillbilly heroin" trafficker fined $3000

A MAGISTRATE has told a drug trafficker the only way “hillbilly heroin” got onto the black market was through people misusing prescription medication.

Magistrate Michael Coghlan made the comments yesterday while convicting and fining Camperdown’s Paul Riches $3000 for trafficking prescription medication Oxycontin.

Riches, 47, of Lawrence Street, pleaded guilty to the charge. 

Another Camperdown man caught up in the same drug trafficking ring was also recently fined $3000.

Oyxcontin is an opiate-based painkilling medication, whose effects mirror heroin and is commonly known as hillbilly heroin. Operation Underfeed was launched by police last year targeting prescription medication trafficking in the Camperdown area. 

Telephone intercepts were put in place and police executed search warrants on September 3 and 4.

Police told the court that Riches supplied and received something in return for Oxycontin but there was no financial gain.

A search at Riches home found 18 empty boxes of Oxycontin filled through his prescriptions. 

Riches told police he swapped the drug with mates. 

Defence counsel Alex McCulloch said his client had pleaded guilty to a serious charge but his offending was at the lower end of the scale.

He said Riches had been taking Oxycontin for 12 years due to an injury. Mr Coghlan said he found it difficult to understand how someone taking Oxycontin in line with their prescription then ran out of the drug. 

He said the Australian public heavily subsidised the prescription use of the drug and it only got onto the black market if some of the tablets provided were not used. 

He said there were significant numbers of people in the community addicted to Oxycontin and tablets were usually sold for between $40 and $80 each.

Riches interrupted the magistrate to say he only lent tablets to friends. 

Mr Coghlan said everyone was well aware that trafficking Oyxcontin was a problem and  the drug did untold harm in the community .

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