A physician who oversaw the illegal prescription of hundreds of thousands of pills was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox announced Monday.
Carlos Luis Venegas, 62, was charged with conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in early February. Venegas was the supervising physician for series of clinics that acted as fronts to illegally distribute Hydrocodone and Alprazolam, the U.S. Attorney's office said.
"These pill mills help to perpetuate the tragic opioid crisis gripping our country," Nealy Cox said. "Last year, America lost, on average, 116 people per day to opioid overdoses. We cannot allow unscrupulous conduct by physicians to add to the supply of dangerous drugs on the streets."
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At the trial, witnesses said others involved in the scheme paid homeless people to pose as patients seeking pain medication. Nurse practitioners and physician's assistants working for Venegas at the clinics conducted only "cursory medical exams," witnesses said.
Several of Venegas' co-defendants have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced for their roles in the scheme.
"The DEA will continue to investigate these types clinics and health care personnel who are facilitating illegal distribution of prescription drugs", said DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Division Clyde E. Shelley, Jr. "One overdose is one too many."