A nationwide DEA investigation aims to remove medical professionals and facilities that contribute to the opioid crisis.
A 45-day investigative surge into prescribers and pharmacies that issue excessive amounts of opioids led to 10 arrests and two voluntary surrenders of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registrations in the state of Kentucky, which proved to be the highest number of such actions in the United States during that time period.
The nationwide enforcement and administrative surge, ordered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a means of removing medical professionals and facilities that contribute to the prescription drug crisis, took place between February and March of 2018 and yielded more than 25 arrests and 54 enforcement actions, including search warrants.
The death rate from overdoses in Kentucky has risen steadily over the past decade, as reflected by 2016 statistics that reported the loss of 1,404 residents and non-residents to overdose, up from 1,248 reported in 2015.
WKU, the public radio service of Western Kentucky University, cited an email from Robert J. Scott, the resident agent in charge of the DEA Louisville Field Division, who noted that in addition to the 10 arrests, agents carried out two search warrants and sent 20 letters of admonition after regulatory inspections.
“In addition, DEA has generated investigative leads as a result of the surge that we will continue to pursue,” Scott wrote. “It is anticipated that these new leads will result in additional enforcement and regulatory action in the coming months,” though as WKU noted, the details of these future actions were not included in the email.
More than 80 million transaction reports from DEA-registered manufacturers and distributed were examined during the surge, as well as reports on suspicious orders and drug thefts submitted by other federal agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services.
The analysis led to 366 leads, of which 188 resulted in investigations by 22 DEA field offices.
Ultimately, 28 arrests and 283 administrative actions, including scheduled inspections, surrenders for cause of DEA registrations and immediate suspension orders, were handed down across the country.
In a statement issued by the Department of Justice regarding the surge, Sessions was quoted as saying that the DEA will “surge task force officers and more analysts to places across America where the opioid crisis is at its worst.
These new resources will help us catch and convict more of the drug traffickers and corrupt medical professionals who are fueling the opioid crisis.”
Sessions announced plans for the surge during a speech in Louisville in January, shortly before Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address.
In the speech, Sessions stated that prescribers and pharmacists would be the focus of the investigations.
“The fundamental thing is serious criminals have to be dealt with seriously,” he said during the speech. “That’s going to be our goal, and we’re going to be working with state and local departments to identify the most dangerous people”
Source: The Fix
By Paul Gaita 04/06/18