NY Doc Busted in $10-Million Oxy Drug Ring
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A New York City doctor has been charged with running a massive prescription drug ring spanning several states, and illegally dispensing half-a-million oxycodone pills with a street value of $10 million. Dr. Hector Castro, his office manager Patricia Valera and four dozen others were charged with running what the DEA called an "extensive interstate network of narcotics traffickers" between September 2011 and February 2013. "Well over half-a-million oxycodone pills were illegally sold in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, fueling the addiction of an untold number of people," said Bridget Brennan, New York City's special narcotics prosecutor. Since most of the prescriptions were filled in New Jersey, the activity managed to duck the radar of New York State's Prescription Monitoring Program. But after an overdose death in New Jersey in late 2011, authorities found a pill bottle bearing Castro's name, and ultimately discovered that most of the oxy pills sold on New Jersey streets were coming from his prescriptions. Authorities also arrested 41 members of Pennsylvania "drug crews" in connection with the case, and seized 28 firearms during those arrests. "The firearms recovered in this case also highlight how the gun violence associated with cocaine and heroin trafficking is now the muscle in the illegal oxycodone trade," said Brian Crowell, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA's New York office. Prescription drug abuse has been classified as a nationwide "epidemic" by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 100 people die each day from drug overdoses, driven primarily by prescription drugs. Castro and the others "targeted and capitalized on this deadly pain medication threat," said Crowell. Castro is currently being held on $500,000 bond.