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Doctor and clinic employees indicted in drug trafficking scheme

Many drug cases in California and elsewhere are based on allegations of prescription excesses and the reckless over-prescribing of narcotics by doctors. Rarely, however, does a case allege that doctors and others are intentionally conspiring for the mass distribution of illegal narcotics in a major drug trafficking scheme. Authorities have announced such a plot with the arrest of five people in a "pill mill" case that allegedly involves doctors and laypersons in a widespread conspiracy to distribute illegal narcotics and other addictive medications.

The prescriptions and drugs were allegedly sold through a Los Angeles clinic. In addition to the five defendants, two others are still being sought by police. They allege that more than 10,000 prescriptions were issued by the doctor at the Southfork Medical Clinic during an investigation spanning 15-months. Most of the traffic involved hydrocodone and also Xanax, a popular Valium-like tranquilizer.

Authorities accused the conspiracy of having a drug trafficking connection to Texas, where drugs were allegedly funneled. The clinic was closed down. It appears that authorities have arrested the doctor and the operator of the clinic in prior raids in 2013. It's unclear how the defendants continued to operate after that arrest but apparently the police are alleging continuing drug trafficking activities.

Employees of the clinic were also arrested. One of them was charged with shipping illegal narcotics to Texas. One man is accused of obtaining customers to purchase prescriptions through the clinic. A woman who controls the day to day operations of the clinic was also arrested.

Each of the defendants must obtain separate California defense counsel. The drug trafficking charges could bring substantial terms of incarceration for each defendant who may be convicted. Each counsel will conduct an in-depth investigation with the focus on determining what defenses may be available to that defendant. Since the charges must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, each charge must be held up to intense scrutiny in the face of the prosecution's evidence in order to determine whether a conviction is likely or not.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "L.A. doctor, 4 others arrested in prescription drug 'pill mill' case", Victoria Kim, Jan. 13, 2015

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