Sessions said the suspects accounted for more than $1.3 billion in fraudulent transactions across more than 20 states, and at lease 120 people were charged for their alleged roles in over-prescribing and distributing opioids, making it also the largest-ever opioid-related fraud takedown.
Of the 412 charged in the year-long operation, 56 were physicians.
Sessions said that too many trusted medical professionals have chosen to violate their oaths and put greed ahead of their patients and amazingly, some have made their practices into multimillion dollar criminal enterprises.
A doctor at a Houston clinic is accused of writing 12,000 prescriptions for opioids, enough for more than 2 million illegal doses.
The enforcement effort comes as the country continues to battle a fatal epidemic of prescription drug abuse, much of it involving opioids. Abuse of the expensive pain-killers often lead addicts to cheaper and often lethal alternatives like heroin and fentanyl.
Sessions also said that last year, an estimated 59,000 people in the U.S. died form drug overdoses, many of them linked to opioid abuse, according to the DEA. Casualties are now on pace this year to exceed 60,000.
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said the overall enforcement operation involved 29 bureau field offices around the country and more than 300 agents.
McCabe also said that the nation is in the midst of a crisis because opioid abuse destroys lives as it inflicts a special king of damage. He further said that investigators found opioid addicts packed in standing room-only waiting rooms for their prescription painkillers and that more doctors were writing more prescriptions than entire hospitals.
In one case, a group of six Michigan doctors allegedly operated a scheme to provide patients (aka customers) with unnecessary opioid prescriptions and later billed Medicare for $164 million in false claims. Some of those prescribed painkillers were resold on the streets to addicts.
South Florida produced the largest number of suspects – 77 – who were charged with a combined $141 million in false billings for home health care, mental health services and pharmacy fraud. Nearly half of those false billings were submitted by the operator of a Florida addiction treatment center who recruited addicts to relocate to south Florida so the operator could bill insurance companies treatment that was never rendered. In return for their cooperation, the addicts were allegedly offered gift cards, airline travel, trips to casinos, strip club outings and drugs”.
In God we trust. All others pay cash!