NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Nearly 50 people, including a Manhattan physician and his office manager, have been arrested in an oxycodone smuggling ring that trafficked $10 million worth of drugs across several states, authorities said.
Dr. Hector Castro was arrested Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to 39 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.
Narcotics investigators allege Castro’s medical office on East 16th Street was at the heart of two major schemes to peddle millions of highly-addictive oxycodone pills, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.
Castro is accused of selling each oxycodone prescription for $125 cash, Cornell reported.
Unbeknownst to Castro, his officer manager Patricia Valera was operating a separate trafficking ring and getting more money by selling prescriptions to two major dealers in Pennsylvania, Cornell reported.
“Valera also ran a scheme stealing prescription pads and forging 155 prescriptions for drug traffickers who paid her $500 for the prescription sheets,” said Brian Crowell, the special agent-in-charge of the DEA’s New York Division.
The two illegally distributed more than 500,000 pills in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, authorities said.
“The unique thing of this case was you had both a rogue doctor and a rogue employee who were both running their own independent trafficking rings,” said New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan.
The undercover investigation by New York City’s special narcotics unit was sparked after a pill bottle with Castro’s name was found at the scene of a fatal oxycodone overdose in Middlesex, N.J., in 2011.
“This trafficking organization was just like any other narcotics trafficking organization, like a crack organization or a heroin organization, and there was a lot of violence within the organization,” Brennan said.
Forty-three people were arrested in Pennsylvania. Authorities also seized 30 guns in New York and Pennsylvania.
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