DEA Investigation Leads To Indictment Of 34 Individuals Including Physicians And Pharmacists For Conspiracy To Possess With Intent To Distribute Controlled Substances
SAN JUAN, PR. - - On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted 34 individuals who participated in a scheme to dispense, obtain and distribute prescription medications for financial gain, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
It was part of the scheme where Doctors Cesar I. Vargas-Quiñones, Hector J. Aguilar-Amieva, Luis F. Betancourt-Medina, and medical school graduate Jaime M. Perez-Fernandez, would write multiple fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances such as Percocet, Demerol, Subuxone, Hydrocodone, Xanax and Klonopin to individuals. These individuals would then take the prescriptions to community pharmacies such as Farmacia Modelo, Farmacia Nueva, Farmacia Yani and Farmacia Sandut, all in San Sebastian; Farmacia Jayleen in Aguadilla and Best Pharma in Moca. The owners and pharmacists would fill the prescriptions and the individuals would sell these controlled substances to other co-conspirators or on the streets of Puerto Rico. Ten search warrants were also executed by DEA at seven pharmacies, two residences and one clinic.
“Prescription drugs obtained by illegal prescriptions and/or obtained through unlawful sources pose a serious danger to the public health. Moreover, many of the crimes committed in Puerto Rico occur by people under the influence of controlled substances. Today’s arrest operation exemplifies the department’s commitment to aggressively prosecute all drug traffickers who endanger our communities with the sale of controlled substances, regardless of the type of narcotic,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez Vélez.
"The impact of these indictments has taken down all levels of this distribution ring; from the physicians writing these prescriptions to the sellers on the streets,” said Pedro Janer, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Caribbean Division. “The immediate suspension orders against all the registrants involved has shut down a pill mill clinic working outside the scope of acceptable medical practices and seven pharmacies that were dispensing fraudulent prescriptions and ignoring obvious signs of illegality. DEA is committed to stopping those who are diverting prescription drugs and who are supplying the fastest growing drug epidemic in Puerto Rico and the United States."
If convicted, defendants are facing a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and possible fines up to $1,000,000.00.
This investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement (DEA), in collaboration with the U.S. Secret (USSS), Human and Health (HHS), the Medical Service and Anti-Addiction Administration of Puerto (ASSMCA) and the Police of Puerto Rico.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. (AUSA) Elba Gorbea with the assistance of AUSA Myriam Fernandez from the Asset Forfeiture Unit.
An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.