In a sting dubbed Operation Pill Crusher, two dozen alleged drug dealers in Kentucky have been arrested and accused of obtaining prescription drugs at popular Florida pain clinics and taking them back to Kentucky to sell. A Miami Herald investigation published last week showed that pain clinics in Florida — particularly Broward County — are dispensing prescription narcotics daily to traffickers traveling from Kentucky and other states.
Doctors charge a few hundred dollars for an MRI that justifies the prescription and, in many cases, the drug seekers get monthly prescriptions filled at the clinics, for as many as 300 pills, without ever having to go to a pharmacy.
The drug dealers are making thousands of dollars for each trip to Florida. Each 30 milligram Roxicodone is selling for $30 on the street in Kentucky, a 15 milligram Roxicodone is selling for $15, and a Xanax brings about $4.
The stories showed that local doctors are dispensing the pills with little or no oversight — exploiting lax state laws and health regulations — while feeding an epidemic spreading across the eastern United States. On Tuesday, Kentucky law enforcement agents were rounding up alleged traffickers who police say are subsidizing car, van and airplane loads of people traveling to Fort Lauderdale to get prescription drugs from dozens of clinics.
Thousands of Kentuckians are traveling to South Florida’s pain clinics. Once there, people get prescriptions for hundreds of painkillers like oxycodone, sold under the brand name Roxicodone, and for Xanax, an anti-depressant.
A combination of factors has led to the much-traveled Kentucky-Broward County pipeline. Kentucky and 37 other states electronically monitor the number of narcotics prescriptions a person obtains from physicians. But Florida has no such system.
Pain clinics are everywhere in Broward County. I took a short drive the other day down Oakland Park Boulevard and saw over seven pain clinics just a few miles apart. It is no secret that the Fort Lauderdale Police and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office keep a tight watch on these pain clinics.
Interestingly, Florida has no system in place to monitor doctor shopping. That combined with lax health regulations have created a free for all for drug traffickers. In Kentucky, the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system, known by the acronym KASPER, tracks the people who are prescribing, dispensing and obtaining pills.
A proposed law creating an electronic monitoring system is working through the Florida Legislature and could come up for a vote next week. However, similar legislation has failed for the past seven years in Florida.
Richard Ansara is a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney. He is the head attorney of the Ansara Law Firm located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Ansara Law Firm handles Felony and Misdemeanor cases in Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach County. If you have any questions and would like to speak with Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Ansara about your case please call (954) 761-4011.