Frank A. Rubino, ESQ.

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Does South Florida have a prescription drug crime problem?

The U. S. Department of Justice maintains a division of researchers and statistical analysts who track growing trends in illegal drugs throughout the country. That agency is known as the National Drug Intelligence Center. In September 2011, the NDIC issued a report in which it reviewed extensive data taken from police arrest reports, substance abuse treatment clinics, health care providers and many other sources to produce its Drug Market Analysis report for South Florida.

The federal government considers four Florida counties as being in a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties are known as a HIDTA. That designation means that these areas are primary arrival zones for multi-kilogram quantities of illicit drugs such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

According to the 2011 NDIC report, much of South Florida has seen little movement in the quantities of traditional illegal drugs being trafficked throughout the HIDTA. However, the report identified a dramatic increase in both the use and trafficking of controlled prescription drugs. These prescription drugs are typically opiate-based pain pills such as oxycodone. The report says that controlled prescription drugs have become a problem throughout South Florida.

The NDIC report highlighted a coordinated federal, state and local law-enforcement raid in February 2011 dubbed "Operation Pill Nation" to showcase the growing problem of medical health care providers illegally trafficking in controlled prescription drugs. During that raid, at least 22 individuals were arrested including many doctors who had engaged in a conspiracy to distribute more than 660,000 doses of oxycodone.

The report goes on to discuss the dangers to society of these so-called "pill mills" because of their potential to cause an increase in fatal overdoses among abusers.

If you are a Florida resident and you have been arrested for drug crimes associated with controlled prescription drugs, cocaine, heroin and marijuana, you should know that a conviction could result in a substantial prison sentence and seizure or forfeiture of your assets and property.

It is also important to know that an arrest does not necessarily guarantee the prosecution a conviction. In fact, every defendant has a right to challenge the evidence and testimony offered against him or her. That is why it may be in your best interest to explore all of your legal options before deciding to plead guilty to any charges or saying something that might imperil your rights at trial.

Source: DOJ-National Drug Intelligence Center, "Drug Market Analysis 2011" Sep. 02, 2014

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Coral Gables Office

Frank A. Rubino, Esq.
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Coral Gables, FL 33134

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