Law officers have been rounding up criminal suspects at medical clinics around the state this morning, the product of a joint federal/local investigation of bogus prescriptions for narcotics in four states.
A news conference is scheduled this afternoon by U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer, who’ll give a summary of Operation Pillution.
More details later.
UPDATE: Authorities announced that 22 doctors and pharmacists were among some 300 arrested following 15 months of investigation in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma for improper prescription and sale of such painkillers as oxycodone, hydrocodone and xanax. The probe targeted states where abuse of prescription drugs is high. At least one pharmacy, the Bowman Curve Pharmacy, and the KJ Clinic in Little Rock were among those raided today.
In Arkansas, authorities have charged 140 people with prescription drug crimes, including four doctors, four nurses and five pharmacists. A news release explains what was found in one case:
Seven arrests were made today at the KJ Medical Clinic, including Dr. Jerry Reifeiss, prescribing physician, Kristen Holland, pharmacist at Bowman Curve Pharmacy, and Aaron Borengasser, physician’s assistant, formerly with Artex Medical Clinic. In July 2014, DEA received information from local Walgreens and Wal-Mart pharmacies that they were seeing numerous controlled substance prescriptions being written from a clinic in west Little Rock called Artex Medical Clinic. The prescriptions were suspicious, in that they contained typographical errors and were written by the same physician’s assistant for identical pharmaceuticals, namely hydrocodone and alprazolam. Evidence obtained in the investigation revealed that Artex, which later changed its name to KJ Medical Clinic, was operating as a “pill mill,” where individuals obtained prescriptions for narcotic drugs without having legitimate medical need. Beginning in November 2014, individuals were directed by clinic staff to fill the prescriptions at a local pharmacy, Bowman Curve Pharmacy, rather than with a large chain store, such as Walgreens or Wal-Mart. As part of the operation, the homeless and other individuals were recruited to obtain prescriptions at the clinic, after which they would fill the prescriptions, hand over the pills to the recruiter, and receive a small fee.\
During the investigation undercover officers and confidential informants working for law enforcement posed as clinic patients, paying $200 and obtaining prescriptions for narcotic drugs without receiving an examination from a physician, or after receiving an inadequate examination