In what it described as an “unprecedented enforcement action,” the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and federal prosecutors arrested 22 doctors and pharmacists in a 15-month prescription drug trafficking operation. Dubbed Operation Pilluted, the sting involved nearly 1,000 law enforcement officers across Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The doctors and pharmacists were among 280 individuals arrested on federal and state charges related to their illegal pharmaceutical trafficking of addictive controlled substances such as the opioids oxycodone and hydrocodone, and the anxiolytic alprazolam; 73 seizure warrants were executed, resulting in the seizure of $11.6 million and $6.7 million in real property.
“The doctors and pharmacists arrested in Operation Pilluted are nothing more than drug traffickers who prey on the addiction of others while abandoning the Hippocratic Oath adhered to faithfully by thousands of [clinicians] each day across this country,” said DEA Special Agent in-Charge Keith Brown.
The DEA was aided by the FDA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Internal Revenue Service.
In 2013, approximately 43,982 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, one death every 13 minutes. Nearly 52% of those deaths (22,767) were attributed to prescription drugs. Of these, 71% (16,235) were attributed to opioid overdoses, according to DEA officials.