DEA agents raided a local clinic suspected of illegally selling pharmaceuticals and arrested dozens of people, including doctors, as part of a yearlong investigation aimed at battling the opioid epidemic.
The investigation, dubbed Operation: Hypocritical Oath, led to local agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and California Department of Justice officers raiding a medical clinic at Crenshaw Avenue and 43rd Street.
Agents gathered evidence and arrested a doctor, who was one of nine practitioners charged with diverting dangerous narcotics, including highly addictive opioids, to the black market.
Resulting from the raid, DEA agents arrested 38 people, including nine practitioners; 41 doctors are no longer able to practice; 236,620 counterfeit prescription pills were seized; $3 million in cash and assets were seized.
DEA agents said the arrests came through good old fashioned police work, informants, and patients.
"We also have databases where we can pretty much tell if a doctor is over-prescribing," Daniel C. Comeaux with DEA's Los Angeles Division, said. "So we go through that information with our intel analysts, and we come up with a good target list, and we in fact see if they're not doing good, and if they're not doing good, we will target them."
This is just one part of fighting the opioid epidemic in the U.S.
As of January 2019, more than 130 people die each day from opioid overdose. That number has risen every year since 2002, with some 11 million Americans believed to be abusing prescription drugs.
While U.S Attorney Nick Hanna believes 99 percent of doctors out there are good, honor their medical oath, and know the addiction risks, he has a stern warning for the darker side of the profession.
"That 'M.D.' after your name does not insulate you from prosecution. If you are selling your prescription pad, if you are diverting drugs to the black market, you are a drug dealer, and we will treat you as such," Hanna said.
Authorities noted that 15 deaths are known to be linked to Thursday's arrests.