Four California Drug Treatment Centers Raided By FBI

By Paul Gaita 10/29/19

It is unclear if the searches were in response to any illegal activity.

FBI agent
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Federal agents conducted searches at four substance abuse treatment centers in California's Los Angeles and Orange counties in early October 2019, seeking what the Orange County Register claimed was evidence in a criminal investigation.

A spokesperson for the FBI said that the reasons for the raids were filed under seal in federal court, and did not comment further on the details of the probe.

But as the Register noted, media reports of improper regulations over the addiction treatment industry in the Golden State have yielded accounts of deaths and unchecked substance abuse within treatment centers, and have spawned federal probes and new state laws to protect patients while in treatment. 

October Raids

The FBI spokesperson, Laura Eimiller, said that the four facilities raided on October 3 were Malibu California Model Drug Treatment Center Inc., which was doing business as Inspire Malibu in Agoura Hills; Progressive Recovery Solutions LLC, doing business as Victory Detox Center in North Hollywood; BLVD Centers Inc., doing business as BLVD-Sawtelle in Los Angeles; and Reflections Recovery Inc., doing business as Reflections Recovery in Santa Ana.

Calls and other means of communication to all four locations by the Register went unheeded on the Monday after the raids, and the newspaper underscored that it was unclear if the searches were in response to any illegal activity.

According to the Register, Inspire Malibu and Victor Detox Center are described as "state-of-the-art" or "upscale" care centers, while BLVD is part of a chain of rehabilitation centers located throughout Los Angeles. The Orange County-based Reflections reportedly billed itself as an affordable outpatient facility.

Similar Raids In 2017

The Register also noted that the searches were not dissimilar to ones conducted at the now-defunct Sovereign Health treatment centers in San Clemente, Palm Desert and other California locations in 2017. It cited paperwork filed in federal court by attorneys for the addiction treatment company, which revealed that FBI agents sought evidence of health care and wire fraud, conspiracy and illegal payments for patient referrals.

Sovereign closed its doors in 2018, but according to the Register, its CEO now operates a new treatment program.

Four bills currently awaiting signature by California Governor Gavin Newsom aim to improve care in the state's treatment facilities and reduce instances of unethical practices. These include AB 920, which would require the California Department of Health Care Services to license all outpatient alcohol and drug addiction centers by 2021, and SB 589, which would regulate marketing and advertising by treatment centers in order to prevent false or misleading claims.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.