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41 arrested in oxycodone raids in L.A., Washington state

February 28, 2013 |  1:29 pm

More than 40 people were arrested Thursday in Southern California and Washington state as federal agents and local police executed dozens of search warrants in a massive probe into the illegal trade of the narcotic oxycodone hydrochloride.

In early morning raids, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Los Angeles Police Department, working with the Spokane Regional Drug Task Force, targeted what authorities described as a criminal  organization that funneled large quantities of the prescription medication illegally across the West Coast.

The move comes as the nation experiences a jump in deaths due to prescription overdoses.

A 32-count federal indictment handed down in Washington in January charged most of those arrested with a variety of crimes, including distribution, possession and attempted possession of oxycodone hydrochloride -- the generic version of the brand name drug OxyContin -- in violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act.

The massive sweep, which netted 26 people in Southern California with two already in custody, is part of a growing movement by law enforcement to stop the illegal and often deadly trade of prescription medications.

“Members of this ring regularly circulate between Los Angeles and Spokane to fuel their customers'  insatiable appetite and pharmaceutical addiction,” said DEA agent Matthew G. Barnes in Seattle.

Prosecutors said Thursday that some of those indicted face potential mandatory minimum sentences of 20 years in prison if convicted. In addition, federal prosecutors are seeking a notice of criminal forfeiture, seeking a money judgment of $20 million, or the amount gained from sales of the drugs.

“Today’s operation is another fine example of the outstanding partnerships that have been forged between agencies who are committed to ridding our communities of violent organized criminals who prey on our City” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. 

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-- Richard Winton
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