MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Police arrested five accused of being involved in a crime ring that earned about $6.5 million, while dealing with pharmaceutical drugs in Miami-Dade.
Miami-Dade police said they were buying drugs from patients and reselling them to manufacturers. The Food and Drug Administration was involved in stopping the business they were running out of 7175 SW 47 St., near South Miami.
David Bourne is the special agent in charge of the Miami office of criminal investigations for the FDA.
"Once a prescription drug is diverted outside of the regulated distribution channels, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for regulators or the unsuspecting consumer to know whether the drug is authentic, safe and effective," Bourne said.
Police arrested Jose Capote, 39, Dax Osle, 41, Yulia Martinez, 31, Rafael Prrats, 61, and the unidentified ring leader Wednesday. Investigators believe some of the drugs they dealt with had not been stored at proper temperatures and had expired during the course of changing hands.
The arrests were part of what authorities are calling a campaign against the illicit trafficking of pharmaceutical drugs. The black market includes doctors and patients who cheat the Medicare and Medicaid system, police said. And it also includes former cocaine dealers pretending to be health-care providers, police said.
Some bogus clinics collect Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits for complicit patients, police said. They then give the patients cash and sell the drugs to retail pharmacies nationwide, police said.
In this case, the drugs ended up at legitimate pharmacies out of state and were dispensed to people with medical conditions. Some of the medications the accused were allegedly dealing with were meant to treat cancer, HIV and were even anti-psychotic drugs.
"The most pressing concern is to the legitimate patient, the end user," Miami-Dade Detective Robin Pinkard said in a statement.
The Wednesday operation involved several agencies -- including the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services.
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