PORTLAND, Ore. — Law enforcement in Portland is using a new approach to tackle illegal and dangerous drugs on the city’s streets.
A Portland police officer recently arrested a man in the downtown area for “Practicing Medicine Without a License” after the officer spotted him dealing drugs.
Officer Eli Arnold has been with the Portland Police Bureau for approximately six years. He has spent the last two years on the bureau’s Central Bike Squad.
“I primarily deal with street level crime which includes a lot of drug use, drug dealing, and the associated crime,” Officer Arnold said.
Officer Arnold was on the prowl for that on June 14, near the corner of Southwest 9th and Morrison, when he spotted a man, later identified as John Baker Jr., dealing drugs. The officer approached the man.
“He appeared to be one of these low-level dealers,” Officer Arnold said. “He had a little bit of drugs but not a ton, not a lot of money, and he had a story.”
Officer Arnold said Baker told him he was dealing drugs to people who needed them to battle withdrawals. Baker was acting as a doctor even though he wasn’t one.
“He told me he hadn’t been to medical school and didn’t have prescription writing authority,” Officer Arnold said.
Taking into account the small amount of drugs Baker had on him — 2.1 grams of meth and two fentanyl pills, according to court documents — Officer Arnold arrested Baker for “Practicing Medicine Without a License.”
“He didn’t have all the markers we see a lot with a regular delivery case and so I thought this is a great opportunity to try this out and explore the charge,” Officer Arnold said.
This sort of tactic is not unheard of.
Since the start of the year, the Multnomah County District Attorney has prosecuted more than a half dozen people for trademark counterfeiting. These are people who stamped fake oxycontin pills laced with fentanyl with M30, ultimately infringing on the trademark of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.
“I personally feel it offensive to sell fentanyl for $4 or something to a guy dying on the sidewalk,” Officer Arnold said about his recent arrest.
KGW reached out to the DA’s office and a spokesperson sent a statement that said they were able to prosecute Baker on the “Practicing Medicine without a License” charge, and the case now heads to a Grand Jury.
“It is important to us to use all available laws to prosecute people who are propagating dangerous drugs like fentanyl on our streets,” the statement from the DA’s office said.