Men from Newburyport and Hampton, N.H., have been indicted on felony charges that they illegally sold the highly addictive prescription drug OxyContin throughout the region.
Phillip W. Widener, 52, with past addresses in Newburyport on Merrimac Street and Woodman Way, and in Seabrook on Whittier Drive, is facing two felony counts of sale of controlled drugs and possession of controlled drugs with intent to distribute.
The man police believe to be Widener's partner, Stephen Marshall, 42, with an address listed as the Emerald Isle Motel in Hampton, was also arrested. Marshall faces seven felony counts, including multiple counts of sale of controlled drugs and possession of controlled drugs with intent to distribute.
Both were indicted by a Rockingham County grand jury last week. Each count carries a charge of from 31�Ñ2 to seven years in prison under New Hampshire law.
The arrests were made after undercover agents with the N.H. Attorney General's Drug Task Force were able to purchase numerous OxyContin 80 milligram tablets from Widener.
"Oxy 80s are the most sought after (prescription drug) sold illegally today," Sgt. Richard Farrell of the N.H. Attorney Genearls' Drug Task Force said. "It's the largest (dosage) prescribed regularly, and it sells for about $1 per milligram. It's expensive, so you often find people get addicted to Oxys, then can't afford to maintain that habit and resort to heroin, which is much cheaper."
The arrests are examples of the regional nature of the illegal drug industry, Farrell said. The task force arrested the men at the Emerald Isle Motel in Hampton in November, netting drugs and money after a months-long investigation that started with a Seabrook police tip.
Although Farrell said neither Widener nor Marshall were "drug kingpins," their arrests will help identify other people in "their sphere of influence." Both men were addicts, who bought drugs to use themselves and sold them to others to support their habit, he said.