Narcotics agents descended on more than a dozen South Florida pain clinics Wednesday, arresting at least 20 people — including five doctors — in the most dramatic effort yet to curb the region's booming business of illegal prescription narcotics, reports the Miami Herald. The raids were the culmination of a two-year investigation by a task force of federal, state and local investigators, an operation dubbed “Operation Pill Nation.” Undercover agents were dispatched to storefront pain clinics to buy potent painkillers such as oxycodone without any medical justification for the pills, investigators said.
Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti called the raids a new front in a “new kind of drug war” on the massive trafficking of prescription drugs through pain clinics operating with the outward appearance of legitimacy. Inside the clinics, doctors hand out pills without taking medical exams, and armed guards patrol the lobbies. These clinics have popped up all over South Florida in recent years. In Broward alone, the number of clinics grew from four to 130 in four years, making the region the prime supplier of illegal pills in the eastern United States.