Forty one people, including pharmacists charged with operating “pill mills” and overprescribing opioids for profit
Forty-one individuals have been charged in nine indictments for their alleged involvement in and operation of a network of “pill mill” clinics and pharmacies, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed in a news release on August 28.
According to the DOJ, those involved included medical providers, clinic owners and managers, pharmacists, pharmacy owners and managers, as well as drug dealers and traffickers.
Police estimate that medical staff diverted roughly 23 million oxycodone, hydrocodone, and carisoprodol pills, much of which ended up being sold on the street by drug dealers.
“Opioid abuse has a devastating and far reaching effect on our society,” said Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office. “The doctors, nurses and pharmacists in this case allegedly misused their positions, violating the trust of the public they took an oath to serve.
“Together with their co-conspirators, these medical professionals released millions of highly addictive drugs onto the streets of our community. FBI Houston remains committed to working alongside our federal, state, and local partners to combat this epidemic and protect our neighborhoods.”
In total, federal law enforcement agents executed 36 search warrants on up to 15 “pill mill” pharmacies and six “pill mill” clinics, as well as other offices and residences, aimed at disrupting networks of opioid diversion, reports the DOJ.
Additionally, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) served seven immediate suspension orders on various pharmacies and suspended licensing for two providers involved in dispensing controlled substances without legitimate medical purpose.
The enforcement actions were led by the Health Care Fraud Unit of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section (HCF Unit), along with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices (USAOs), as well as the DEA and task force officers from greater Houston police departments and the FBI.
“This type of criminal activity is, in part, what is fueling the 68,500 overdose deaths per year across the United States,” said Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy of the DEA’s Houston Division. “The DEA and our numerous law enforcement partners will not sit silently while drug dealers wearing lab coats conspire with street dealers to flood our communities with over 23 million dangerous and highly addictive pills.”
According to the DOJ, “The charges allege participating doctors, medical professionals and pharmacies knew the prescriptions had no legitimate medical purpose and were outside the usual course of professional practice. In some cases, “crew leaders” and “runners” allegedly filled or had the individuals who posed as patients fill the illegal prescriptions at Houston-area pharmacies.”
The DOJ explains that one owner and pharmacist operating a single “pill mill” allegedly dispensed the second highest quantity of oxycodone 30mg pills in the entire State of Texas in 2019, the ninth highest amount in the U.S. All oxycodone dispensed was prescribed, or otherwise sent out, at the high available dosage strength.
The indictments also allege that drug dealers and traffickers then “allegedly diverted and distributed the controlled substances to the streets, with some pills trafficked from Houston to Boston.”
“By and large, these clinics are all about money and not the patient,” said U.S. Attorney Patrick. “If it was about the patient, no legitimate doctor would write, and no legitimate pharmacy would fill, these massive amounts and combinations of controlled substances. Pill mills are magnets for crime and should be eradicated.”
“I am happy and willing to partner with any agency or police department in shutting down and prosecuting these places,” he continued.
“I am also eager to expand our work into healthcare fraud in the Rio Grande Valley. These grifters are wasting tax payer money and making healthcare more expensive for everyone else.”
Since yesterday’s indictments, Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski, and U.S. Attorneys Ryan K. Patrick and John F. Bash, have announced that the HCF Strike Force will be undergoing and expansion into the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio, making it the 24th district with a large presence in order to tackle drug trafficking.
“Today’s action shows that the Department of Justice continues to relentlessly pursue criminals, including medical professionals, who peddle opioids for profit,” said Benczkowski. “Our use of data analytics means that no one engaging in this criminal behavior is invisible. And if you behave like a drug dealer, we are going to find you and treat you like a drug dealer.”
“I am excited to team with Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski and U.S. Attorney Patrick to fight healthcare fraud in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley,” said U.S. Attorney Bash. “Fraud in the healthcare system not only rips off innocent victims and taxpayers, but it also quite often endangers the health of patients – as with the illegal distribution of addictive opioids. For that reason, it’s a major priority for all of us.”
US President Donald Trump’s official Facebook page shared a post commending him for the American job numbers for November, while calling out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the abysmal job numbers in Canada, the worst since the 2008 financial crisis.
“Let’s see. President Trump is fighting for America and our economy [sic] just ADDED 266,000 jobs,” starts the post from a Trump supporter shared by the POTUS on Facebook.
“Justin Trudeau was laughing it up in London and the Canadian economy just LOST 71,200 jobs. That’s no joke. Trump wins. Again,” the post ends, referring to Trudeau being caught on a hot mic earlier in the week making fun of Trump to other world leaders when at the NATO anniversary gathering.
Trump responded by calling Trudeau “two-faced” and that the PM didn’t like him calling out Canada as “delinquent” in its defence spending. The US President was also caught on a hot mic when leaving the London saying it was “funny when I said that guy was two-faced.”
On Friday news broke that Canada had lost over 72,000 jobs in the month of November, many Canadians losing their jobs just before the holiday season. The job loss was the biggest in Canada since the 2008 financial crisis.
Trump has been boasting throughout the day about the great jobs report in America and appears to have not forgotten Trudeau talking about him behind his back in London.
Trudeau hasn’t likewise addressed the Canadian jobs report on social media.
Many political experts have said that Trudeau being caught laughing behind Trump’s back could have untold consequences for Canada relationship with the US, especially if Trump is reelected in 2020.
Since the Trump Administration was inaugurated, the Trudeau Liberal Government has shown a repeated tone of arrogance and superiority towards our American allies.
Whether it was Trudeau and Freeland giving virtue-signalling speeches that were thinly-veiled swipes at the US, lecturing the US on social issues, or Trudeau’s latest debacle at the NATO summit, it’s been clear that the Trudeau Liberals have no respect for America.
Yet, at the very same time, the Trudeau Liberals show far more respect towards Communist China, no matter how badly that nation treats Canada.
Consider the fact that—whatever disagreements Trudeau and Trump may have—the US is still available to talk and discuss issues with our country, and is a democratic nation governed by the rule of law.
By contrast, Trudeau and Freeland often can’t even get China to answer their phone calls.
Canada and America are part of the same inheritance of Western Civilization, and our history and future are inextricably linked.
Meanwhile, Canada’s values and the values of China’s Communist government are clearly incompatible, as the suppression of freedom, forced organ harvesting, denial of religious rights, execution of political dissidents, and horrifying surveillance state all makes clear.
And while Canada and the US have disputes like any two nations do, the fact remains that China has treated us far worse than the US ever has. China is illegally detaining two Canadian Citizens, has spoken in arrogant and threatening tones towards our nation, and is clearly an ideological and strategic adversary.
Additionally, the vast majority of our foreign trade is with the US, and given our amazingly weak defence spending, the US is basically the only armed force that is defending North America (and by extension defending the Canadian People) at the present time.
All of this should be the basic groundwork for how any Canadian Leader thinks about the United States. And it should go without saying that a Canadian Leader should always be more respectful towards the US than towards Communist China.
But with Trudeau, we see the opposite.
He’s never laughed about Xi Jinping.
He’s never mocked Xi Jinping.
He hasn’t even lectured China on their concentration camps with as much force as he lectured the US about abortion.
In short, Trudeau has shown far more respect to Communist China than he has towards the United States, a clear sign that his value-system and worldview is severely messed up.
Trudeau appears to be in thrall to the view of the radical far-left which blames the Western world for everything, admires brutal communist states, and seeks to weaken their own nation and our Western allies in order to strengthen foreign nations out of some insane sense of “historical guilt.”
Now, with Trudeau’s screwed up mindset governing the nation, our country is increasingly distanced from our closest ally, putting all of Canada at risk in an increasingly dangerous world.
One of Canada’s largest oil companies, Encana Corp., has announced its plans to move its headquarters to the U.S. and drop links to Canada from its name, rebranding as Ovintiv Inc.
According to the Financial Post, this latest announcement will surely intensify uncertainty surrounding Canada’s energy sector, which has been “choked off [of] prospects for growth, prompting foreign companies to ditch more than US$30 billion of assets in the past three years.”
In a conference call, CEO Doug Suttles said that he does not believe that the move to the U.S. will impact the Canadian workforce, as the company will continue to do business in Canada.
Following the announcement, shares of the company fell as low as 9.2 percent in Toronto.
Sonya Savage, the Minster of Energy for Alberta, says she’s “troubled” by Encana’s decision to relocate to the U.S., but “cannot say [she’s] surprised” by the move or that they waited until after the federal election to make the announcement.
Savage says that the company has been progressively shifting its efforts towards the U.S. in large part due to harmful climate policies which make it more difficult for oil companies to operate in Canada. She says that she hopes that this company’s decision to leave the country for greener pastures in the U.S. serves as a wake-up call for politicians in Ottawa.
Indeed, few are shocked by the decision, and many have justified it as entirely logical after Texan Doug Suttles took over as Chief Executive Officer for the company in 2013. Upon acquiring the position, Suttles aggressively began selling Canadian assets and building up the company’s position in the U.S. by purchasing Permian driller Athlon Energy and Freeport-McMoRan Inc.’s Eagle Ford shale assets.
Last December, Suttles relocated to Denver and announced that the company would be “headquarterless”, a move indicative of his determination to distance himself from the toxic Canadian climate besieging the energy sector in the country.
“A domicile in the United States will expose our company to increasingly larger pools of investment in U.S. index funds and passively managed accounts, as well as better align us with our U.S. peers,” Suttles said in a statement Thursday.
The United States Pentagon has just released air footage of the United States’ raid on an ISIS compound where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was found and later died.
In a press conference, Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, gave an overview of the special operations forces raid on the compound that took place October 26, 2019.
Baghdadi was confirmed dead during the raid, along with five ISIS members. It was originally believed that Baghdadi dragged three children with him down one of the compound’s tunnels, as he fled from U.S. forces. This was found to be incorrect, with only two children being found dead along with the ISIS leader.
“He crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground,” McKenzie Jr. said.
Another eleven children were found in the compound, all of whom were safely rescued and transferred following the raid.