The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Los Angeles Field Division today announced Operation Faux Pharmacy, a multi-pronged initiative aimed at attacking the opioid epidemic by targeting rogue pharmacies throughout Southern California, Hawaii, and Nevada. DEA investigations over the last year identified as many as 26 pharmacies in these areas that may have operated outside the bounds of legitimate medicine.
The United States has been increasingly devastated by opioid abuse, created in large part by the over-prescribing of potent opioids. Across the country, approximately 11.8 million Americans misuse prescription opioids each year, which contributes to the estimated 65,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States. A majority of these deaths were related to opioids, including heroin, illicit fentanyl, and prescription drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.
“DEA is fighting the opioid crisis on multiple levels, using every resource available to identify reckless doctors and rogue businesses that fuel addiction in our neighborhoods and communities,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “We will continue to identify and hold accountable the most significant drug threats, using every tool at our disposal – administrative, civil and criminal – to fight the diversion of controlled substances.”
DEA and other law enforcement partners utilize a host of tools and resources available to identify some of the most egregious violators of the Controlled Substances Act. As part of this initiative, DEA special agents, diversion investigators, and intelligence analysts examined data that manufacturers and distributors report to DEA, Prescription Drug Monitoring Program information, and Health and Human Services data to determine those most likely to be operating as drug traffickers disguised as legitimate pharmacies.
As part of Operation Faux Pharmacy, 26 pharmacies were identified as potential violators of the Controlled Substances Act as a result of investigations triggered by data that was exhaustively compared and analyzed with previous administrative or criminal violations from previous, similar cases. Common indicators include pharmacies that had filled exceptionally high numbers of oxycodone prescriptions, excessive or frequent opioid purchases, multiple customers with identical addresses, or customers traveling extreme distances to specific pharmacies despite access to more convenient options.
DEA partnered with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners as part of this initiative. To date, Operation Faux Pharmacy has seized close to 600,000 dosage units of scheduled drugs. The investigation is ongoing and violators of the Controlled Substances Act may face administrative, civil, and criminal penalties.