By Carla Zanoni
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Police are boosting their fight against the illegal sales of prescription drugs in the southern end of Washington Heights, according to the captain of the 33rd Precinct.
After monitoring an uptick in complaints and arrests near the Broadway 1 train subway station near 156th Street, 33rd Precinct Captain Joseph Dowling said he had assigned a police officer to the subway entrance and increased the presence of undercover police officers in an effort to quell the sales.
According to Dowling, the precinct had already made five illegal prescription drug selling-related arrests by the end of January.
"People are coming from outside of the area and trading pills for money," Dowling said, detailing a complex network of drug runners who funnel prescription drugs from the streets back into pharmacies, the black-market and sales in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
"It’s an ongoing issue and we continue to investigate it," he said.
Residents say they have long complained of a raging drug market and are relieved the police are more heavily patrolling the area.
One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was regularly asked "Do you need any medication?" by teenagers as he walked out of the 1 train subway station.
Washington Heights resident Carmen Levian, 32, said drug calls near 155th Street and Broadway were commonplace.
"You walk down the street and you hear kids, young kids, not just teenagers, calling out, 'pills, pills, pills,'" she said. "People say there are less drugs up here, but just walk around and you can see that’s wrong."