JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man who worked for a carrier service is accused of stealing pain medication from the Jacksonville Veterans Affairs clinic that was meant to be delivered to patients.
Eric Flood, 35, of Jacksonville, was arrested on a third-degree felony charge of controlled substance theft.
According to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office arrest report, Flood’s job was to pick up packaged painkiller medication from the VA clinic on Jefferson Street and then deliver the medication to a commercial parcel carrier service hub so that the medication could be delivered to patients. But investigators said they learned some of that medication never made it to the hub, so they set up surveillance on Flood.
Police said the surveillance operation on the delivery driver revealed he conducted a scheduled pickup of medications from the VA clinic to be delivered to the hub. But during the surveillance, according to the arrest report, Flood made an unscheduled stop on Bulls Bay Highway on the Westside, where detectives said Flood went inside the cargo area of the truck and was then seen making a phone call.
When the truck finally arrived at the carrier service hub and was left parked, according to the report, an undercover detective went into the cargo area of the truck and discovered a package from the VA clinic had been opened and reclosed with tape. According to the report, a bottle of hydrocodone was placed in the tampered package after previously being sealed in a different package at the VA. The detective later discovered a second package that had been opened and closed with tape. According to the report, the second package contained two previously sealed bags that had been opened and the detective noted that medication was missing. Investigators said they discovered the hydrocodone in the first package came from the second package.
Flood was eventually arrested at the hub. The address listed on the report for the location of the arrest shows it's a UPS distribution center.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said hydrocodone is in high demand by drug addicts, which is why there is so much pressure to make sure the medication gets to the person who really needs it.
"They’re going to watch that particular drug more so than any other drug because that’s the No. 1 drug they’re concerned with," Jefferson said. "When you’re transporting or dealing with hydrocodone, stakeholders have a propensity to watch over it very carefully because they know it’s a drug that’s highly addictive. They know it’s in high demand. ... They know the temptation is there to use them, temptation to sell them. You can make a lot of money off them.”
Flood was booked Monday night into the Duval County jail and he was released the next day on $5,000 bond, according to online jail records.
When News4Jax showed up at an address listed as his home Thursday to see if he would tell his side of the story, no one answered the door.
Jefferson said that even though detectives made an arrest, the investigation is far from over.
"How many more of them out there? Is he linked to a group? Is this just an isolated event? They will do their diligence to figure all that out," Jefferson said.
In response to Flood’s arrest, a spokesperson for the Veterans Affairs office issued a statement that says, in part: "Ensuring that veterans receive the best care possible is our No. 1 mission. This includes ensuring that they receive the medications that have been prescribed."
According to the VA, if a veteran has not received an ordered medication in the time frame it's normally received, patients should call the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center at 1-877-741-3400.
The spokesperson said Flood was not employed by the VA. It's unclear if he is still employed as a delivery truck driver.
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