By Danny Fenster
OxyContin or Oxycodone/dea photo
Thirty two people were busted– including 13 doctors — in what the head of the Miami FBI described as “the nation’s largest criminal organization involved in the illegal distribution of pain killers.”
The bust capped a three-year investigation dubbed “Operation Oxy Alley” that netted the players tens of millions of dollars in profit, authorities said. In a related state case, authorities charged a doctor with first-degree murder after a Florida man died shortly after filling an illegal prescription.
Authorities on Tuesday unsealed the federal indictment that targeted the illegal distribution of pain killers and steroids through pill mills operating in Broward and Palm Beach Counties in Florida, and through the Internet. The charges included racketeering conspiracy, money laundering and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.
The law enforcement agencies involved in the take down included the DEA, FBI and IRS and local police departments.
The indictment alleges that twin brothers Christopher and Jeffrey George operated, managed and financed four pain management clinics in Broward and Palm Beach Counties: American Pain, Executive Pain, East Coast Pain and Hallandale Pain.
According to the indictment, from 2008 to early 2010, the defendants’ pill mills distributed approximately 20 million oxycodone pills and made more than $40 million from the illegal sales of controlled substances.
“These defendants showed a callous disregard for the well-being of their patients and the value of human life. For years, they distributed oxycodone and other controlled substances without regard to medical need, without individual treatment plans, and without physical examinations, ” Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said in a statement.
John V. Gillies, head of the Miami FBI said : “The significance of today’s takedown is that we have dismantled the nation’s largest criminal organization involved in the illegal distribution of pain killers. Up until today, efforts focused on the demand by targeting individual users. Today, we attacked the source and choked off the supply.”
Authorities alleged that the defendants operated the clinics as pill mills that offered patients prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances “without any legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional medical practice.”
Authorities said patients included addicts and traffickers seeking to buy large quantities of oxycodone and other drugs. Some traveled from such states as Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.
The clinics hired security guards to try and control fights and arguments that often erupted between patients waiting in the clinic lobbies for their physical examinations or prescriptions, authorities said.
The indictment stated that by 2010, the doctors involved in the operation were examining close to 500 patients a day at the American Pain Clinic alone.
Lastly, authorities alleged in the indictment that the racketeering defendants engaged in wide-ranging violence, including kidnapping, extortion, assault, aggravated assault with a firearm against competitors and others suspected of stealing or other acts of disloyalty.