The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Wednesday announced that its Los Angeles field division has identified up to 26 pharmacies in southern California, Hawaii and Nevada that are suspected of operating as drug traffickers disguised as legitimate pharmacies and violating the Controlled Substances Act.
In a news release, the DEA announced that over the past year, its L.A. field division has conducted Operation Faux Pharmacy, a multi-faceted initiative targeting pharmacies potentially operating outside the bounds of legitimate medicine. DEA special agents worked with diversion investigators and intelligence analysts to examine data that manufacturers and distributors report to the DEA, as well as prescription drug monitoring program information, and Health and Human Services data to identify potentially unlawful pharmacies.
The 26 pharmacies identified in the investigation were flagged based on patterns in line with administrative and/or criminal violations in similar past cases. Common indicators included: filling exceptionally high numbers of oxycodone prescriptions, excessive or frequent opioid purchases, multiple customers with identical addresses and customers traveling extreme distances to specific pharmacies despite having access to more convenient options.
Close to 600,000 dosage units of scheduled drugs have been seized thus far in the operation, which is ongoing. Controlled Substance Act violators could face administrative, civil and criminal penalties.