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Tag: oxycodone

DEA Issues First Public Safety Alert in Six Years As Counterfeit Pills Flood the Market

By Steve Neavling

The DEA on Tuesday issued a rare warning about mass-produced counterfeit pills containing lethal doses of fentanyl that have been linked to fatalities. 

The public safety alert was the agency’s first in six years. 

According to the alert, more than 9.5 million counterfeit pills have been seized so far this year, which is more than the last two years combined. 

Lab testing found that the pills contain at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose. 

Criminal drug networks are manufacturing the pills, which look like real prescription medications such as oxycodone, hydocodone, alprazolam, and amphetamines such as Adderall. 

“Across our five state Division, we’ve seen a staggering influx in counterfeit pills,” DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin C. King said in a news release. “This is not an East Coast or West Coast problem, but one that the entire nation is facing. We’re seeing these pills in our own Midwestern communities. By raising awareness to this alarming trend, we’re hopeful that we can save families the heartache of losing a loved one. Every life is precious and we want to prevent as many people as possible from making a choice that has permanent repercussions.”

Most of the counterfeit pills are produced in Mexico and brought to the U.S. 

More than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in the U.S. last year, and the “primary driver of this alarming increase” is fentanyl, the DEA said. 

DOJ Operation Leads to Largest Seizure of Drugs Sold on Darknet sites

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators have arrested dozens of people accused of trafficking drugs through Darknet sites, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

The operation led to the seizure of more than $6.5 million in cash and virtual currencies, about 274 kilograms of drugs ranging from fentanyl and oxycodone to methamphetamine to heroin in the U.S., and 63 firearms.

The busts were part of operation DisrupTor, an international effort involving the Justice Department and law enforcement partners in Europe. It was the largest seizure of drugs sold online in U.S. history.

Darknet sites, which are on encrypted networks to make access difficult, have become a popular way to distribute illicit drugs.

“Criminals selling fentanyl on the Darknet should pay attention to Operation DisrupTor,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said in a news release. “The arrest of 179 of them in seven countries—with the seizure of their drug supplies and their money as well — shows that there will be no safe haven for drug dealing in cyberspace.”

“With the spike in opioid-related overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognize that today’s announcement is important and timely,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “The FBI wants to assure the American public, and the world, that we are committed to identifying Darknet drug dealers and bringing them to justice.  But our work does not end with today’s announcement. The FBI, through JCODE and our partnership with Europol, continues to be actively engaged in a combined effort to disrupt the borderless, worldwide trade of illicit drugs. The FBI will continue to use all investigative techniques and tools to identify and prosecute Darknet opioid dealers, wherever they may be located.”

Click here to read prepared remarks on the busts.

DEA Targets CVS Stores in Painkiller Crackdown

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 In its effort to crack down on addictive painkillers like oxycodone, the DEA has revoked the controlled substance licenses of two CVS Caremark Corp drugstores in Florida, Reuters reports.

The two stores, about 30 miles south of the Orlando, contend they did nothing wrong and were busy pharmacies.

The DEA, however, alleges the stores inappropriately sold oxycodone and potentially other controlled substances, according to Reuters.

The DEA said the use of painkillers is reaching epidemic levels and is now more popular than heroin and cocaine combined, Reuters reported.

TSA Officer Pleads to Taking Bribes to Let Drugs Pass Through

file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A TSA officer based at Palm Beach, Fla. International Airport pleaded guilty Monday to taking bribes to let drugs pass through airport security.

Christopher Allen, 46, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.,  pleaded guilty Monday before U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Have, Conn.   to taking payments from a drug trafficker to let large amounts of the prescription drug oxycodone pass through airport security. The drugs were destined for Connecticut for illegal sale.

“This defendant received cash payments to violate his oath of public office and look the other way as large quantities of oxycodone pills passed unlawfully through airport security,” said U.S. Attorney David B. Fein  in a statement. “For obvious reasons, we cannot tolerate corruption within the ranks of those who are entrusted with the responsibility for screening air travelers and their baggage. I commend the DEA Task Force for shutting down a pipeline of highly addictive prescription pills from Florida to Connecticut, and for bringing to justice this federal employee and others who participated in this illegal scheme.”

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Physician Handed Four Life Sentences for Fatal Prescriptions

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A Chicago Physician was handed a steep sentence on Tuesday for his role in the deaths of four individuals, the FBI said.

Paul H. Volkman was sentenced to four consecutive terms of life imprisonment, the FBI said.  He was convicted of “illegally prescribing and dispensing pain pills outside the scope of a legitimate medical practice,” the FBI said, resulting in the death of four people between 2003 and 2005.

The 64-year-old was convicted in May of 2011 of 18 crimes, receiving a life sentence on each count as well as being ordered to forfeit $1.2 million. Among the 70 witnesses presented at trial were pharmacists that refused to fill Volkman’s prescriptions, law enforcement officials who investigated the deaths and  Volkman’s employees.

“Volkman was the physician at the center of a criminal scheme to distribute millions of controlled substances to hundreds of individuals in exchange for cash—a scheme that brought addiction, diversion, and death to southeastern Ohio and beyond,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tim Oakley and Adam Wright wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court. “During the course of this conspiracy, Volkman was the top physician purchaser of oxycodone in the country.”

DEA Asked to Submit Rationale for Pharmacy Suspension Orders

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The DEA was ordered on Monday to submit an explanation of its rationale for attempting to shut down a Florida pharmaceutical distribution center, reports the Associated Press. D.C. US District Judge Reggie Walton gave the agency until the end of next week to make a submission.

The DEA had issued orders earlier this month to suspend the sale of controlled substances by two CVS pharmacies near Orlando and Lakeland, Fla., in an attempt to combat the misuse of pain killers like oxycodone, according to the AP. The pharmacies were giving out large amounts of the drug in excess of legitimate needs, the DEA had said. This is the first time branches of a national pharmacy chain were targets of suspension orders.

To read more click here.

 

Ex-Security Guard to the Stars Gets 9 Years for Distributing Oxycodone

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former security guard to the stars who protected such celebrities as Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Lionel Richie and the late Marvin Gaye, was sentenced Friday in Alexandria, Va. fed court to 9 years in prison for conspiring to distribute oxycodone.

Joseph Emmanuel Mann, 57, of New Carrollton, Md., was convicted of the charges last October.

Authorities said that as part of the conspiracy Mann obtained prescriptions of the drug by wearing disguises, including wigs and hats, and using multiple names and dates of birth.

“By changing his identity, Mann was able to receive high volumes of prescription narcotics on a regular basis from various local pharmacies,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

Co-conspirators testified that Mann, when entering a pharmacy to fill a prescription for OxyContin, would act as if he was in a lot of pain and wear neck braces and carry crutches.

During trial, he was seated in a wheel chair even though no witness ever saw him in one before his arrest last July, authorities said.

Mann distributed more than 20,000 OxyContin 80 mg pills during the eight-year conspiracy, many of which were resold by co-conspirators to addicts throughout Northern Virginia. Authorities witnesses at trial said they saw Mann illegally distribute pills near schools, libraries, restaurants, and on the National Mall.

DEA Busts NY Doctor for Writing Scripts to Drug Gang

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A Manhattan doctor has been supplying street gangs with the powerful painkiller Oxycodone for street sale, authorities say.

Dr. Felix Rodriguez was arrested when DEA agents and deputy U.S. Marshals  raided his offices Wednesday morning , reports NBC New York.

The internal medicine doctor wrote hundreds of prescriptions for gang members who allegedly sold the pills-nearly 50,000 of them-for as much as $30 a a piece the street, the station reported.

Rodriguez had been questioned by agents in February. He had told DEA agents that he was addicted to the painkillers and had been writing the prescriptions for patients, who would then return them to him for free medical care.

“Today’s arrests place a doctor whose oath was to keep people healthy, and his drug distribution organization behind bars,” Wilbert L. Plummer, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge of the N.Y. Office said in a statement.

“Dr. Felix Rodriguez hid behind his white jacket while overseeing and facilitating an oxycodone distribution ring based in the Bronx, New York. The abuse of diverted prescription pain medication is the fastest growing drug problem in our country…”

To read more click here.

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