According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in the next few weeks, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will bolster investigations of doctors and pharmacies found to be prescribing or filling suspicious amounts of opioids. The FBI will also be targeting illegal online pharmacy sites on the Dark Web.
Sessions, from a Tuesday speech to law enforcement in Louisville, Kentucky:
“Over the next 45 days, DEA will surge, Special Agents, Diversion Investigators, and Intelligence Research Specialists to focus on pharmacies and prescribers who are dispensing unusual or disproportionate amounts of drugs.”
“That will help us make more arrests, secure more convictions — and ultimately help us reduce the number of prescription drugs available for Americans to get addicted to or overdose from these dangerous drugs.”
Last year, Sessions ordered the creation of a new data analysis team, also known as the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, to target health care fraud related to opioids. Also, he assigned several prosecutors to areas around the U.S. where opioid addiction is rampant.
He also ordered all 94 U.S. Attorneys to assign an opioid coordinator to head-up anti-opioid approaches in their district.
FBI to Target Illegal Online Pharmacies
Sessions also announced the creation of a new FBI team, known as the Join Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement unit, which will target illegal online pharmacies with the purpose of shutting them down.
“Criminals think that they are safe on the darknet, but they are in for a rude awakening. We have already infiltrated their networks, and we are determined to bring them to justice.”
Indeed, as many as 35,000 online pharmacies are operating globally, and more than 90% fail to comply with federal laws. Many do not require a prescription, and around half are selling fake painkillers and other counterfeit medications.
A report issued recently to the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Investigations revealed that it was disturbingly easy to locate and order drugs online from China, synthetic opioids in particular. The report stated the USPS was relatively unequipped to keep up with the demands of customs regarding illegal drug imports.