Forty-one people have been charged in nine indictments for their involvement in a pill mill network in Texas responsible for trafficking more than 23 million opioids and muscle relaxers, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced. Those charged include medical providers, clinic owners and managers, pharmacists, pharmacy owners and managers, and drug dealers and traffickers.
Federal law enforcement agents also executed 36 search warrants including 15 pharmacies and six pill mill clinics. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also took administrative action and immediately suspended seven pharmacies and two providers who allegedly dispensed controlled substances without legitimate medical purpose.
The pill mill network allegedly involved illegal prescriptions for the opioids oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as the muscle relaxant carisoprodol, obtained by “runners” or individuals posing as patients. In some cases, drug dealers and traffickers diverted the highly addictive pain killers to the streets, with some trafficked as far as Boston.
“Today’s action shows that the Department of Justice continues to relentlessly pursue criminals, including medical professionals, who peddle opioids for profit,” said Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Our use of data analytics means that no one engaging in this criminal behavior is invisible. And if you behave like a drug dealer, we are going to find you and treat you like a drug dealer.”
“This type of criminal activity is, in part, what is fueling the 68,500 overdose deaths per year across the United States,” said Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of the DEA’s Houston Division. “The DEA and our numerous law enforcement partners will not sit silently while drug dealers wearing lab coats conspire with street dealers to flood our communities with over 23 million dangerous and highly addictive pills.”
Opioid abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. According to the Department of Health & Human Services, 12.5 million people misused prescription opioids and 33,091 Americans died from opioid overdose in 2015 alone. We are investigating cases involving opioid-related deaths and overdose, or symptoms of overdose requiring hospitalization.
In addition to individual cases of serious injury and death related to opioid abuse, Beasley Allen is representing multiple local governments in Alabama against both manufacturers and distributors of opioids for increased costs faced by local governments related to the opioid epidemic. Providing city and county resources to battle the opioid crisis causes local governments to sustain economic damages and ongoing significant financial burdens.