Federal authorities arrested 13 doctors that were involved in the operation of illegal pill mills. After completing a three year investigation dubbed "Operation Oxy Alley", 32 people have been indicted for their involvement in oxycodone trafficking. The investigation targeted owners, operators and doctors from the four largest pain clinics in the country. All of the arrests occurred in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, however, some of the defendants will likely retain Miami criminal defense attorneys. The defendants ages range from 25 to 76 and were charged with crimes including racketeering, money laundering and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.
The are first oxycodone cases prosecuted b y the federal government where the defendants are being charged with racketeering. The indictment includes allegations that the defendants were involved with pill mills that handed out over 20 million pills and in turn made $40 million from the illegal sales of controlled substances. According to the FBI special agent in charge of the investigation, "As a result of today's takedown, we have dismantled the nation's largest organization that was illegally distributing pain killers and steroids." The is the first federal case where doctors, health clinics and suppliers have been indicted. It definitely shows that the focus has shifted from individuals possessing oxycodone to the individuals and entities that are distributing the highly addictive narcotics.
In a side note, one of the doctors has been charged with first degree murder in Palm Beach County in a case where a West Palm Beach man dies within hours of receiving pain killers from a clinic. Federal authorities are making a committed to shutting down the clinics that illegally distribute oxycodone. They are calling the problem an epidemic after the Florida Medical examiner released a report indicating that 2,710 people dies in 2010 by taking illegally prescribed pain killers. That figure was up 8% from 2009. The report also indicated that Florida is responsible for the distribution of 85% of the oxycodone sold in the country.
South Florida has become the focus of the oxycodone problem as individuals from all over the country travel to obtain the illegal substance. Some people are addicts while other travel here to get the pills cheap and return to their states to sell the drugs for a large profit. Drug trafficking in oxycodone carries steep penalties in state and federal court. Anyone caught with in excess of 28 gram of the substance faces a 25 year minimum mandatory sentence. The current campaign against the offense is now focused in clinic owners and doctors. Anyone involved with these types of clinics must know that the focus is now against clinic owners and doctors from Palm beach County to Miami.
Investigators Charge 13 Doctors in Pill Mill Crimes - and One with Murder, Miami Herald.com, August 24, 2011.