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 October 31st, 2008  
St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara announces 53 arrests in three-month “Operation Bad Medicine”
 
A three-month St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office investigation into prescription fraud, doctor shopping and illegal sales of prescription drugs has resulted in 53 arrests for a total of 98 charges and the seizure of more than 3,000 pills, according to Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.

“Operation Bad Medicine, which began in August and ended this month, was a follow up to Operation Safe Medicine Cabinet in late July,” Sheriff Mascara said. “In the earlier operation, we established a program of allowing people to safely dispose of outdated or unused prescription drugs by bringing them to disposal sites. That program is continuing.”

Sheriff Mascara said drug agents targeted those who abused the prescription medication system with phony prescriptions in some cases and getting several prescriptions from different doctors for pain medication, a practice known as “doctor shopping.”

“Our detectives also targeted street-level sales of illegally obtained prescription drugs in which undercover deputies posed as drug purchasers,” Sheriff Mascara said. “Also, we seized quantities of prescription drugs from traffic stops in which defendants had painkillers they had obtained without prescriptions.”

Sheriff Mascara said: “The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office is committed to a strict zero tolerance approach to these crimes. Our approach is three-pronged. (1) We have a proactive program of encouraging people to turn in unwanted or outdated drugs, which we safely destroy. (2) We vigorously investigate cases of people obtaining prescription medications by fraud including doctor shopping. Detectives in our Drug Diversion Unit investigated 600 such crimes in 2007. (3) Detectives work in an undercover capacity to target those who sell prescription medications on the street.”

Sheriff Mascara said the purpose of announcing these programs is to heighten public awareness of the dangers posed by the illegal use of prescription drugs. In addition, “We are sending a warning to doctor shoppers and those who fraudulently obtain prescription drugs. If you’re hooked on these drugs, seek medical treatment for your addiction. If you commit fraud to get these drugs illegally, we will investigate you and make arrests whenever possible.”

In addition to Operation Bad Medicine’s arrests of 53 people on 98 charges, 15 others with active felony warrants are still at large on a total of 24 charges.

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