The Untouchables Arrested in Florida/Kentucky Pill Mill Sting

A case from last week proves that slowing the sale of legal prescription pills for illegitimate purposes is more difficult than was thought.  Though Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi has made it a priority to shut down “pill mills,” and the illegal drug infrastructure they support, initial controls are not yet putting a squeeze on the flow.

On 2/3/2012, Franklin County, Kentucky Sheriff Pat Melton announced the arrest of nearly 30 individuals wanted in the large scale distribution of Oxycodone and other pills obtained from Florida pharmacies.  It was called Operation Untouchable.

The nickname for the criminal syndicate came from the wording “The Untouchables” and a photo of group members that was printed on t-shirts that suspects openly wore while conducting their drug trafficking.

During 2011, the group was able to purchase almost a million dollars worth of Schedule II and III painkillers at South Florida pharmacies in Broward County.  The drugs were transported back to Kentucky for sale.

In a joint operation by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, and West Palm Beach Police Department, “The Untouchables” were tracked over a thousand miles between Florida and Kentucky.  According to Melton, the group obtained and transported over 36,000 pills, with a value of $917,250.00, during the 13-month investigation.

The D.E.A states 90 of the top 100 doctors in the country who prescribe Oxycodone have been from Florida.  Florida’s Operation Pill Nation sought to crack down on these doctors and pill mill clinics.  Since then, Bondi says that number of doctors has been reduced to 11.

On January 19, 2012, Bondi and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway spoke at a prescription drug abuse conference in Lexington, Kentucky.  Both AG’s agreed the “pill pipeline” between Florida and Kentucky was significantly reduced through legislative and law enforcement efforts.

In my area of Florida, 2010 and 2011 saw a boom, not only prescription drug abuse, but in other crimes that surround the users themselves, such as burglary, theft, battery, and DUI.  On many calls, we could trace back from the reported crime to someone’s pill problem.

In this game of hide and seek, the drug dealers will do their best to circumvent each new legal rule.  Conversely, the federal government and states must work with law enforcement to close each open loophole and keep our streets safe.


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