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DEA Surge in Drug Diversion Investigations Leads to 28 Arrests and 147 Revoked Registrations

Surge part of Administration’s focus on combatting the opioid epidemic

For 45 days in February and March, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration surged its enforcement and administrative resources to identify and investigate prescribers and pharmacies that dispensed disproportionately large amounts of drugs. The ultimate goal of the surge was remediating or removing those whose actions perpetuate the controlled prescription drug crisis in America, particularly opioid drugs.

During that period, the DEA surged the efforts of special agents, diversion investigators, and intelligence research specialists to analyze 80 million transaction reports from DEA-registered manufacturers and distributors, as well as reports submitted on suspicious orders and drug thefts and information shared by federal partners, such as the Department of Health and Human Services. This resulted in the development of 366 leads to DEA field offices, 188 of which (51 percent) resulted in active investigations by DEA’s 22 field divisions.

“In the midst of the deadliest drug epidemic in American history, we need all hands on deck,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “That’s why the Department of Justice has made enforcing our drug laws a priority. Over the last 45 days, the DEA has surged resources and personnel to prevent the diversion of opioids, arresting dozens of people and taking away drug dispensing authority from nearly 150 medical professionals. And our efforts are just getting started. I recently announced that DEA will surge task force officers and more analysts to places across America where the opioid crisis is at its worst. These new resources will help us catch and convict more of the drug traffickers and corrupt medical professionals who are fueling the opioid crisis.”

“DEA will use every criminal, civil, and regulatory tool possible to target, prosecute and shut down individuals and organizations responsible for the illegal distribution of addictive and potentially deadly pharmaceutical controlled substances,” said Acting DEA Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “We must stop the loss of our loved ones to these drugs.”

The culmination of those investigations was 28 arrests, 54 other enforcement actions including search warrants and administrative inspection warrants, and 283 administrative actions of other types. These additional actions included scheduled inspections, letters of admonition, memoranda of agreement/understanding, surrenders for cause of DEA registrations, orders to show cause, and immediate suspension orders (the immediate revocation of registrations).

DEA works with various federal and state partners on data sharing agreements to enhance its ability to identify individuals and companies who are contributing to the prescription opioid crisis, including a coalition of 41 state attorneys general and the Department of Justice’s Opioid Fraud and Detection Unit, an initiative of Attorney General Sessions. It is also dedicating additional resources to its domestic divisions to carry out investigations.