Authorities Get Tough on Prescription Drug Trafficking in New York

Prescription Drug Addiction More Prevalent

subpic5The profile of the new American drug addict is changing. It is no longer just the skid-row drunk or the back-alley junkie. In fact, if you someone showed you a picture of today’s addicts, you might be surprised at the way they look. A growing number of Americans from all walks of life are finding themselves hooked on prescription drugs.

Addiction no longer starts out with recreational partying. Now it is increasingly beginning in a doctor’s office, with a legitimate prescription to help with the pain associated with a minor ailment or recovering from surgery. The effectiveness of these medications with managing pain has produced an unintended and often tragic side effect: addiction.

Many individuals do not realize how potent these medications are or how addictive when they are prescribed, but eventually these prescriptions run out. When they do, it is not uncommon for individuals to look for ways to supply their addiction.

To meet the rising demand, people have developed a number of methods to obtain and dispense prescription medications. Now, federal and state authorities are aggressively working to cut off the supply.

Law Enforcement Targets Prescription Drug Traffickers

In mid-August, the New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman arrested a Staten Island man for allegedly running a prescription drug trafficking operation. According to reports, the man was initially prescribed pain medication following two car accidents 2007. After obtaining no-fault insurance benefits the man applied for Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. Shortly thereafter, law enforcement believes he began doctor shopping.

According to the complaint, the man, his girlfriend and two other associates stockpiled the medication then began peddling it around New York. He is accused of trafficking the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, the well-known painkiller Oxycodone as well as the lesser known but equally powerful painkiller Fentanyl.

Law enforcement believes the man and his girlfriend sold approximately $84,000 worth of prescription medication. If convicted, the consequences would be very serious. The man and his girlfriend are each facing 20 years in prison.

The arrest is only the latest arrest in the law enforcement crackdown. In June, two independent Long Island doctors were arrested for their involvement in prescription drug trafficking. The first doctor was accused of selling Oxycodone to drug traffickers for cash.

In the second case, the doctor was accused of overprescribing the drug to individuals the doctor knew were addicted without performing an examination of them. Each doctor could be sentenced to up to 20 years if convicted.

According to Reuters, law enforcement officials such as the district attorneys of Long Island and New York City have been partnering with the U.S. attorneys since February to crack down on prescription drug crimes. The reason for the increased enforcement is clear. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice told the news agency, “Pharmacy robberies, overdose deaths, drugged driving incidents and illegal dispensation of prescription drugs are all on the rise.”

Unfortunately locking up individuals who have become hooked on pharmaceuticals is not likely to help them. What most of these addicts need is a treatment to address their addiction issues.

Although some of these individuals have a legitimate reason for using pharmaceuticals, the reality for many of these people is inescapable. They are facing the very real possibility of being incarcerated for many years, not to mention having their future opportunities limited by the scar of a felony conviction on their record. That is why it is so important for anyone accused of committing a prescription drug crime to contact an experienced New York City criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.