Seven doctors, three clinic owners and one relative have been charged with racketeering and other criminal charges in the latest takedown of doctors and pain clinic owners in South Florida, authorities said Thursday.
The arrests resulted from a three-year investigation in Broward County led by the Drug Enforcement Administration in conjunction with the Broward Sheriff’s Office and other agencies. One of the doctors remains at large.
"These 11 people are allegedly responsible for threatening the lives of countless Floridians by illegally distributing thousand of pills in South Florida,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said at a news conference in Weston.
Special Agent Mark Trouville told NBC 6 the doctors were motivated by money.
"These doctors arrested today were nothing but hired guns," he said. "They were working strictly for greed and profit and with no conscience about the good of the people they were seeing."
The perpetrators worked at a clinic called Pompano Beach Medical and formerly known as Pain Management Inc. in Pompano Beach. Undercover agents went to the clinic multiple times between April 2010 and July 2012 and were prescribed controlled substances in every visit, authorities said.
"And received a total of 55 prescriptions for controlled substances from the doctors arrested today," Trouville said. "Those prescriptions included oxycodone, hydrocodone and Xanax, among others."
Trouville further described the undercover visits.
"As an example, one of our undercovers went in, and the examination consisted of a stethoscope, to the wrong side of the chest by the way, and then reach over and touch your toes. Prescriptions were then written," he said.
None of the doctors are still employed at the clinic.
The takedown is part of Operation Pill Nation. In the last two years, authorities have made 80 arrests and shut down 40 clinics. Authorities also seized weapons during Thursday's visit.
"Two years ago, Broward County was ground zero," said Sheriff Al Lamberti. "It was the epicenter for pill mills in the United States, and we set out to say we are not going to have that in our community."