Cape Cod Times - March 2, 2006
Police say 1,500 needles found during drug bust
By PATRICK CASSIDYSTAFF WRITER
WEST YARMOUTH - A man who received 1,300 new hypodermic needles during a single visit to a needle exchange program in Provincetown was arrested on multiple drug charges Tuesday, according to police.
Officers found just under 3 grams of heroin, 3½ grams of cocaine and an estimated 1,500 new and used needles while executing a search warrant in Obed Story's home at 95 Lewis Road, police said.
''In all of my years, I have never seen anything like this,'' Yarmouth Detective Charles Peterson said yesterday.
Story, 36, was charged with possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to distribute. He was also charged with possession of marijuana and narcotics.
Two other people in the home were not charged, according to Peterson. The search resulted from a joint investigation by Yarmouth and Barnstable police. Police took 900 new needles from the home but left behind about 600 used needles. An investigation into how Story came into possession of so many needles was ongoing, according to Peterson.
State law prohibits the possession of needles and syringes unless an individual is participating in a needle exchange program authorized by the state Department of Public Health. Drug users receive a card indicating their participation in the program but tracing the card to an individual is difficult, Peterson said.
''The cards are issued with identifying numbers but they can't tell me who that number matches to,'' he said.
Department of Public Health spokeswoman Donna Rheaume said she would need more details on the case before making a substantive comment. ''Generally, there are policies and procedures in place that need to be followed,'' she said.
While it is unusual for a needle-exchange participant to swap so many needles, it has happened before, according to Rick Shaw, needle exchange coordinator at the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod in Provincetown. ''If somebody brings in that amount, then they are entitled,'' he said.
The Provincetown organization is one of four in the state authorized to exchange needles in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV through drug addicts' shared syringes.
The Provincetown group offers the only needle exchange program on the Cape, so many of the organization's clients travel relatively long distances and save up needles for the trip, according to Shaw.
Clients may also exchange needles for friends who refuse to do so themselves because they think the group works with police.
Shaw said Story spent 35 minutes at the Provincetown facility during one of his recent visits, an indication he was offered additional services at the time. ''The exchange is the least of what we do,'' he said.
The organization also offers counseling, education, testing and referrals, according to Shaw.
Story pleaded not guilty to all the charges in Barnstable District Court yesterday. A pretrial hearing is set for March 31.
Patrick Cassidy can be reached at email@example.com.
(Published: March 2, 2006)
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