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Physician faces federal drug trafficking charges

Most often when we think of drug charges, we might think of someone being arrested during a traffic stop after the police had found marijuana or cocaine in their car. But over the last few years law enforcement officials have been increasing their investigations into the illegal trade of prescription drugs. Oxycodone and other powerful pain killers are some of the most commonly illegally traded prescription drugs.

A California doctor was arrested recently by local police officers with the cooperation of special agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The physician has been charges with federal drug trafficking offenses. Authorities claim that this doctor provided prescriptions for these painkillers when not medically necessary.

While these drugs have a medical purpose for the mediation of severe pain, some individuals use them recreationally, and may develop strong addictions. Doctors and other medical professionals may not always be aware if their patients are selling the prescription drugs after receiving a seemingly legitimate prescription for the painkillers.

It appears that the attention of law enforcement agencies was piqued after a drug overdose death of one of the doctor's patients at the end of last year. Investigators now claim that there have been a series of drug overdoses associated with prescriptions from this doctor.

Just as for illegal street drugs, the illegal sale or trafficking of prescription drugs can carry severe criminal penalties. This doctor, facing charges of illegal distribution of a controlled substance by a medical practitioner, could potentially be sentenced to up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

Source: KTLA.com, "Santa Barbara Physician Arrested for Drug Trafficking," Jan. 4, 2012

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