Drug Enforcement Administration

New York

James J. Hunt, Special Agent in Charge

March 28, 2013

Contact: Erin Mulvey

Phone Number: (212) 337-3900

Gramercy Medical Center Pumped More Than $10 Million In Narcotic Pills Onto Interstate Black Market

Physician and office manager among 49 arrested in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania: 30 guns seized

MANHATTAN, N.Y. - Brian R. Crowell, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement (DEA), New York Division, Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Raymond W. Kelly New York City Police Commissioner, James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement'(ICE) Homeland Security (HSI), New York Field Office, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane and New York State Commissioner of Health Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., announced today the indictment and arrest of Dr. Hector Castro, an internal medicine practitioner, and his office manager Patricia Valera in connection with widespread illegal trafficking in  oxycodone, a highly addictive narcotic painkiller, in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Another 47 individuals were arrested this week, including the leaders of two major drug trafficking networks in Pennsylvania, as a result of a long-term investigation dubbed “Operation Cuba Libre.” Agents and officers seized 30 guns in a series of court authorized searches, including two in New York and 28 in Pennsylvania.

Castro, the founder and medical director of Itzamna Medical Center at 205 East 16th Street in the Gramercy section of Manhattan, and his office manager Patricia (aka Patricia Rodriguez), are believed to have carried out two separate prescription-related criminal schemes that together resulted in the diversion of well over 500,000 narcotic pills worth at least $10 million onto the black market.

The schemes are the subject of two indictments filed by the Special Narcotics Prosecutors’ Office: one against Castro and the second against Valera, her husband Hector Rodriguez and three other defendants who were arrested in New York and New Jersey on Tuesday. The other 43 arrested defendants are charged in Pennsylvania.

The 15-month investigation was conducted by the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Prescription Drug Investigation Unit and the New York Drug Enforcement Strike Force, Group Z-23, which is comprised of DEA agents, NYPD detectives and HSI agents, with assistance from partners in the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force, which includes agents and officers in the DEA, the NYPD, HSI, the New York State Police, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Marshals Service.

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