MIAMI (CBSMiami) –The Drug Enforcement Administration continued its crackdown of alleged pill mills in South Florida Thursday with the arrests of 10 people, including 6 doctors, in Pompano Beach.
The DEA investigation targeted Pompano Beach Medical clinic, located on Sample Road.
The DEA said it plans to arrest a 7th doctor who is believed to be outside the state of Florida.
The DEA says the clinic was nothing more than a pill mill where doctors illegally dispensed powerful prescription drugs for cash.
“These doctors arrested today were nothing but hired guns. They were working strictly for greed, profit, with no conscience about the good of the people they were seeing,” said Mark Trouville, DEA Special Agent in Charge.
The DEA says undercover agents made numerous visits to the clinic during the 2 year operation and were prescribed drugs that weren’t medically necessary.
Undercover DEA agents went to the clinic over a two-year period and “received a total of 55 prescriptions for controlled substances.” An independent expert said the examinations were “below the ordinary standard of care,” according to the DEA.
“These medications prescribed to this undercover agent are not only dangerous and highly addictive but when taken together can cause coma, overdose and death,” Trouville said.
Investigators say those arrested reaped the rewards — with the clinic owners earning hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The DEA estimates the clinic made $1.8 million in 2010.
This sting is just one in a string of pill mill busts that has shut down 40 clinics in South Florida and led to the arrests of 80 people, including 22 doctors.
Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti once said there were pain clinics in Broward County than McDonald’s restaurants but not anymore.
“Today I’m happy to say you got a better chance on getting a Big Mac than you do a bottle of Oxycontin and that’s because of a lot of hard work, relentless work over the past 2 years,” Lamberti said.
The DEA promised that they will not stop putting rogue clinic owners and doctors in handcuffs.
“DEA does not target doctors,” Trouville said. “DEA targets drug dealers. If these people are going to hide behind their white coats and hide behind their diplomas, they’re not gonna be safe back there.”
According to the DEA those arrested are clinic owner Steven Edson and former clinic owners Bruno Balbi and his father Francisco Balbi. Each faces charges of racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, trafficking in a controlled substance, conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance and money laundering.
Doctors Gabriel Sanchez, Mark Cukierman and Marcia Sills all face charges of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
Doctors Michael Fronstin, Adeline Essian and Khanh Van Kim Duong are charged with illegally prescribing a controlled substance by a practitioner.
All of the above are also charged with delivery of a controlled substance.
Dr. Thomas Rodenberg is at large and DEA says he will be charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and delivery of a controlled substance.
Aline Leca is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
In a statement announcing the arrests, the DEA said the group, “very freely provide(d) lethal prescriptions to patients on a cash basis and contribute(d) in the propagation of the pill mill crisis that exists in the state of Florida.”
In addition to the arrests, 10 guns and seven cars were seized.
The DEA says they seized 9 guns from the current owner of Pompano Medical — Steven Edson.