Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations
January 13, 2011: 17 Individuals Indicted for Conspiracy to Possess With Intent to Distribute Oxycodone
SAN JUAN, PR—On January 11, 2011, a federal grand jury indicted 17 individuals as a result of an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration - Office of Criminal Investigation (FDA-OCI), with the collaboration of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), announced today United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The defendants are charged in a 19-count indictment with conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute Oxycodone.
The first defendant and leader of the organization is José Martínez-Betancourt, aka “Peluche.” He is also facing one count of possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and six counts of misbranding of prescription drugs with intent to mislead and defraud. Beginning in or about August 2009, and continuing up to December 2010, the defendants conspired to cause the unlawful dispensing at pharmacies in Puerto Rico of Oxycodone at the Jardines del Paraíso Housing Project in San Juan and elsewhere for financial gain and profit.
Martínez-Betancourt possessed and used prescription drug slips bearing the names and medical license numbers of various physicians for the purpose of fabricating false prescription for drugs containing Oxycodone, purportedly authorized by such physicians. The other 16 defendants received false prescriptions of Percocet, in many instances together with identification documents of other individuals, and would then go to the pharmacies and obtain the drugs. Subsequently, the defendants would deliver the Percocet to “Peluche” and he along with others would distribute the drugs on the premises of Jardines del Paraíso.
“Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem. Today’s indictment exemplifies the department’s commitment to aggressively prosecute all drug traffickers who endanger our communities with the sale of controlled substances, regardless of the type of narcotic,” said United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez Vélez.
“Prescription drugs obtained by illegal prescriptions and/or obtained through unlawful sources pose a serious threat to the public health,” said Ralph Culkin, Resident Agent in Charge of FDA-OCI. “Everyone should receive prescriptions from an authorized health care provider and have the prescriptions filled at a reputable, licensed pharmacy. Prescription drugs obtained ‘on the street’ and taken without the supervision of an authorized health care provider are dangerous.”
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Héctor Ramírez.
An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.