For the first time since Florida's prescription drug abuse crisis began, investigators are pursuing pill mills as organized crime enterprises — and corrupt doctors as murderers, reports the Miami Herald. After a three-year investigation, federal authorities announced the details of Operation Oxy Alley, a sweeping indictment charging 32 people under racketeering statutes for their involvement in South Florida-based pill mills that doled out 20 million oxycodone pills and profited more than $40 million dollars from illegal sales of controlled substances.
In a companion indictment, local authorities charged a doctor with first-degree murder in the death of a West Palm Beach man who died within hours of filling a prescription for a painkiller. Operation Oxy Alley targeted owners, 13 doctors and operators of the nation's four largest pain clinics — all in Broward and Palm Beach counties — as well as two pharmacies, one pharmaceutical supplier and one internet-based steroid business. The defendants, aged 25 to 76, were charged with crimes including racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.