Six people are facing charges after law enforcement from federal and state agencies swooped in on south Florida pill mills this week. The owners and operators of the mills are accused of illegally dispensing more than 660,000 doses of oxycodone, according to this Reuters report.
The oxycodone was said to have been distributed in cases where its use was medically unnecessary and the distribution reportedly netted the defendants more than $22 million.
The abuse of oxycodone, a powerful pain-killer has been rising as the rest of the illegal prescription drug trade has also climbed. It’s estimated Florida prescribes ten times more of the drug than any of the other states combined, this according to a U.S. Attorney.
“Pill mills” is the term used to describe pain clinics that are used to distribute the highly controlled and addictive drugs to people who have no medical justification for their use. These pain clinics give a bad name to legitimate pain clinics and serve as a sort of store front for the illegal drug trade.
In South Florida, the presence of such clinics has been climbing over the past several years. Neighbors of one pill mill describe drug addicted “patients” lining up in front of the building early in the morning before they even opened.
The “medical professionals” inside would rely on falsified urine tests and would amplify their interpretations of medical testing to justify the need for such prescriptions. In this way the people addicted to the oxycodone could receive a prescription easily and without the hassle of purchasing their drug on the black market.
Three out of six facing charges are also charged with conspiring to launder illegal profits and an additional 26 counts of money laundering. By law, when the proceeds of a drug enterprise are used to purchase items, those items are subject to seizure by the government. In this case, the government is seeking forfeiture of $22 million in property and cash to include real estate, two Lamborghinis, a trailer park, and 44 vehicles and boats.
The prescription drug trade is big business as these drugs are highly addictive. Although the problem is present in every state, south Florida has been hit particularly hard. By taking down the suppliers of the drug, law enforcement hopes to damage the supply to users.
But a user who gets caught up in the system will face legal penalties like the dealer, though they will be less serious. Seriousness is a matter of perspective, however, and facing criminal charges of any magnitude is serious to the defendant.
If you are facing drug charges in Florida, contact us today to discuss your case.