DOJ’s opioid strike force announces over a dozen arrests in multiple states.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s ARPO, in partnership with state law enforcement teams, has announced opioid-related charges against 14 defendants in eight federal districts nationwide. A dozen of these defendants were medical professionals at the time they were allegedly engaging in these crimes.
“Today’s Opioid Enforcement Action highlights the Department of Justice’s latest efforts in responding to the nation’s opioid epidemic, which last year alone caused the tragic loss of life for more than 75,000 people in the United States due to overdose,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the DOJ’s Criminal Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work tirelessly with its partners to combat this epidemic, and to seek to prevent the next tragic loss of life.”
One ARPO case involved a Kentucky dentist who, in August 2020, wrote three opioid prescriptions to a 24-year-old patient over a five-day period. The patient died an overdose.
Another case was brought against a former nurse and clinic director in Tennessee who allegedly diverted opioids for personal use and filled fraudulent prescriptions.
A third case charged a Kentucky doctor with unlawfully prescribing opioids to patients that received treatments which were already covered by taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
“When we helped announce the Health Care Fraud Unit’s Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid, or ARPO, Strike Force in 2019 we said it would be an enduring commitment to stamp out illegal opioid trafficking by prescription pad and we meant it,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker for the Southern District of Ohio. “As is evident by the results announced today, we will continue to bring coordinated enforcement actions to address the opioid scourge plaguing the region.” The force has charged 111 defendants with opioid-related crimes in the past three years. The defendants together wrote prescriptions for over 115 million controlled substances.
“The FBI and our partners are working together to combat the opioid crisis and hold accountable those abusing their prescription privileges,” said Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers of the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office. “We urge the public to assist us in keeping the community safe by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI with tips about those illegally prescribing opioids.”
“Those who illegally prescribe opioids not only undermine critical efforts to address the epidemic; they also put patients at risk of overdose and physical harm,” said Inspector General Christi A. Grimm of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “This enforcement action demonstrates HHS-OIG’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable bad actors who abuse their status as health care providers and exploit the opioid epidemic for personal gain.”
“Doctors and healthcare professionals are entrusted with prescribing medicine responsibly and in the best interests of their patients. Today’s takedown targets medical providers across the country whose greed drove them to abandon this responsibility in favor of criminal profits,” added Administrator Anne Milgram of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “The DEA will use every tool at our disposal to stop drug diversion and fraud. And we are working tirelessly each day to make our communities safer and healthier.”