Federal agents arrested several doctors from multiple clinics in South Florida. Doctors working out of such counties as Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade County were arrested for oxycodone trafficking. The feds raided 15 clinics or "pill mills" which resulted in the arrests of five doctors, along with a few street drug dealers and employees of the clinics. The media has consistently reported the recurring problem which has caused certain activists and politicians to request that a database be put in place to end the illegal distribution of pain killers from the mills. Governor Scott has ben an opponent of the database for ideological reasons such as the right to privacy. All of the individuals arrested yesterday will appear in federal court today at their initial appearance. At the first appearance, bond will be set and each defendant and will either be represented by a private criminal defense lawyer or a criminal attorney from the public defender's office. Individuals that cannot afford to hire a lawyer will be represented by a public defender or a court appointed lawyer.
Oxycodone trafficking cases can be prosecuted both in state and federal court. The potential sentences vary depending on which jurisdiction the case is prosecuted. In state court, oxycodone trafficking minimum mandatory sentences attach to anyone convicted of this offense. Trafficking in 4 to 14 grams of oxycodone carries a 3 year minimum mandatory sentence, 14 to 28 grams carries a 15 year sentence and in excess of 28 grams carries a whopping 25 year sentence. In federal court, the sentencing guidelines apply and the weight of the oxycodone determines the offense level. To determine the potential sentences, a defendant must look at the drug equivalency table where 1 gram of oxycodone is treated like 6,700 grams of marijuana. When considering the weight of the oxycodone, the guidelines require that only the drug itself be weighed excluding the pill, capsule or casing. A 10 year minimum mandatory sentence may apply as well.
Investigators claim that the doctors were handing out prescriptions for fake injuries and false pain. The arrests came from undercover detectives acting as patients who received no medical evaluation from the prescribing doctor. One of the doctors allegedly ordered in excess of 280,000 pills for patients. Records indicate that the top 39 prescribers of the pills work out of South Florida. Residents from other states travel all the way to South Florida because of the easy access to prescription medications. The pill mills are very popular in South Florida because of the lack of regulation. Most other states use tracking systems to prevent this problem. Most advocate for a monitoring system that would prevent the clinics from obtaining and selling large quantities of oxycodone.
Anyone being investigating for oxycodone trafficking or any other form of drug trafficking should not speak with investigators prior to speaking with a criminal defense attorney. Any statements made to law enforcement can and will be used at trial and will certainly limit a defendant's ability to defend the charges, both in state and federal court. Anyone arrested for these types of charges should seek legal counsel as soon as possible to defend the case.
Pill-Mill Arrests Hit Right Target: Doctors Cranking Out Oxycodone Prescriptions, Miami Herald.com, February 23, 2011.