Self-Described "El Chapo Of Opioids" Doctor Accused Of Drug Crimes

By Lindsey Weedston 05/16/19

The former New Jersey doctor stands accused of a number of charges including prescribing oxycodone over a text message.

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Self-Described "El Chapo Of Opioids" Doctor

Former North Jersey family medicine doctor Robert Delagente is being charged with distribution of controlled substances and obstruction of justice after years of allegedly calling himself the "Candy Man" and the "El Chapo of Opioids.”

Federal prosecutors are charging Delagente with improperly prescribing drugs such as oxycodone, Percocet, and Tylenol with codeine, failing to monitor his patients for addiction, and agreeing to prescribe oxycodone, the generic form of OxyContin, to one patient over a text message.

“I’m literally sticking my neck out and can lose my medical license or [be] arrested for what I just did," Delagente allegedly texted.

Furthermore, he’s been accused of altering patient medical records after law enforcement began seeking to gain access to them following other allegations of misconduct. According to federal court documents obtained by NorthJersey.com, he also once referred to an opioid prescription for one of his patients as “oral heroin.”

These allegations come as part of a widespread crackdown on doctors who failed to follow the law when prescribing controlled substances such as opioids. In addition to going after the manufacturers of drugs like OxyContin, prosecutors are shutting down “pill mills” where doctors allegedly excessively prescribe addictive drugs to patients while enjoying perks provided to them by manufacturers like Purdue Pharma.

Last month, 60 people were charged in a crackdown, including 31 doctors. These individuals are accused of prescribing millions of pills in the space of only a couple of years. Some allegedly wrote unnecessary prescriptions for Facebook friends, left blank prescription pads for staff to fill out, and even exchanged sex for prescriptions of oxycodone and fentanyl. One doctor operating in Dayton, Ohio stands accused of giving out 1.75 million pills in the space of just two years.

These charges were part of a single operation by the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force, which was launched by the Trump administration in 2018.

Opioid addiction and overdose deaths have disproportionately affected the Appalachian Region of the U.S., leading the federal government to take targeted action in the area.

“The opioid crisis is the deadliest drug crisis in American history, and Appalachia has suffered the consequences more than perhaps any other region,” said Attorney General William Barr of the charges.

Back in New Jersey, Dr. Delagente faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million for the distribution of controlled dangerous substances and another 20 years and $250,000 for obstruction of justice. His attorney has not responded to requests for comment.

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Lindsey Weedston is a Seattle area writer focused on mental health and addiction, politics, human rights, and various social issues. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Ravishly, ThinkProgress, Little Things, Yes! Magazine, and others. You can find her daily writings at NotSorryFeminism.com. Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindseyWeedston

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