Today, 12 people in locations across the Metro Atlanta area were arrested on racketeering charges for operating a major “pill mill” operation, ending a yearlong investigation involving a number of federal and state agencies. The individuals arrested include 7 pharmacists, a physician, a psychologist, and owners of clinics and pharmacies in Sandy Springs, Chamblee, Marietta, Canton, Calhoun, and Douglasville.
Dekalb County prosecutors claim that for over a year the men conspired to illegally distribute the painkiller Oxycodone in large quantities to people who then shipped it out of state, making millions of dollars in the process. The drugs were allegedly prescribed to patients without any substantial patient examination or diagnosis, and without obtaining patients’ medical histories or proper identification.
Georgia has become a major center of the illegal prescription drug trade. Other states have cracked down on pill mills in recent years and operations have shifted to Georgia. While Georgia has begun to address the problem of pill mills, some of the planned electronic tracking of painkiller distribution will not be in operation until at least 2013. Meanwhile, over 500 people died in the last year in Georgia from overdosing on illegal prescription drugs.
Racketeering charges are often used by prosecutors in large-scale drug distribution cases because not all participants in such schemes have actual possession of drugs or can be tied directly to any drugs. Racketeering, which carries large penalties, involves gaining money though operation of a business or enterprise by committing at least one of a wide variety of crimes. A racketeering conviction may carry a 5- to 20-year sentence and large fines. The state will almost certainly seize all the properties involved in the alleged operation and begin forfeiture proceedings against them.
Our criminal attorneys have successfully defended many drug trafficking and racketeering cases across Georgia and the Southeast. Because of the potentially large penalties involved, it is essential that anyone charged with racketeering or drug trafficking get representation from an attorney knowledgeable in this area of law and with experience handling such factually complex cases.