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South Texas Woman Sentenced in Opioid Prescription Drug Distribution Conspiracy

JUN 05 (DALLAS) - Bertha Alicia Garcia, 50, of Channelview, Texas, who pleaded guilty to her role in a pill mill operation that operated during parts of 2013-2015, has been sentenced, announced Clyde E. Shelley, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Drug Enforcement Administration division office and United States Attorney John R. Parker. 
Garcia was sentenced last week to 37 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater, following her guilty plea in October 2016 to one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, namely oxycodone.  Judge Fitzwater ordered Garcia to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on July 18, 2017.  
In March 2015, a federal grand jury in Dallas indicted 23 individuals, including Garcia, on offenses related to their participation in a prescription drug distribution conspiracy. In 2016, an additional seven individuals were charged in superseding indictments.
That indictment alleged that from at least May 2013 through July 2014, the defendants participated in a scheme to illicitly obtain prescriptions for pain medications, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, and then distribute those controlled substances for profit. As part of the conspiracy, individuals, often homeless or of limited means, were recruited and paid to pose as patients at medical clinics, including the McAllen Medical Clinic in Dallas, to obtain prescriptions to fill those prescriptions at designated pharmacies.

According to documents filed in the case, on August 8, 2013, Garcia and another co-conspirator met with a law enforcement officer acting in an undercover capacity at ABS Medical and Chiropractic clinic on Avenue C in the Houston suburb of Channelview, Texas.  The undercover officer indicated that he wanted to obtain 30mg oxycodone pills and paid the clinic $420 in cash but never met with a medical practitioner and did not have a medical examination.  Later the same day, Garcia met the officer at a gas station in Jacinto City, Texas, and delivered a prescription for 90 10mg oxycodone pills.  Garcia has never been a licensed medical practitioner, has never held a DEA registration number, and has never been authorized to distribute or dispense oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance. 

The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, with assistance from the Internal Revenue Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, the Louisiana State Police, the Grand Prairie Police Department, the Dallas Police Department, the Houston Police Department, the Arlington Police Department, the Greenville Police Department, the Parker County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Diplomatic Security Service.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Walters prosecuted the case.
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