Drugs remain a major issue in many criminal justice proceedings, and they are a complicated subject to address because many drugs can be legal to own with lawful prescriptions. While many news stories about drugs focus on the more illicit substances prohibited in all circumstances, it is important to remember that people can face criminal drug charges for possessing otherwise legal drugs without the necessary prescriptions.
On October 2, 2020, WFAA-TV reported that 49 people, including two doctors and two pharmacists, were charged in the Northern District of Texas with participating in a nine-year, $18 million pill mill scheme. All were arrested and charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said a 61-year-old alleged offender and 36-year-old alleged offender allegedly wrote prescriptions for hydrocodone, oxycodone, alprazolam, carisoprodol, zolpidem, phentermine, and promethazine with codeine with the knowledge those drugs would hit the streets for illegal use. The doctors were assisted by a 48-year-old clinic manager alleged offender, who allegedly got a network of recruiters to find people from local homeless shelters and the community to pose as patients and get prescriptions for controlled substances from the doctors.
Recruiters paid each “patient” anywhere from $50-$200 in cash to get the prescriptions and the recruiters then got the prescriptions filled at various complicit pharmacies in North Texas and distributed the drugs for resale on the streets. The clinic manager alleged offender did not have a medical license or a DEA registration, but was the person who many of these “patients” saw at the clinic, prescribing drugs “without a legitimate medical purpose.”
The DOJ said the pill mill scheme ran for nine years, and prescriptions issued by one doctor included over 524,000 doses of hydrocodone, 430,000 doses of carisoprodol, 77,000 doses of alprazolam, and 2.07 million doses of promethazine with codeine. Over a seven-year span, the other doctor issued prescriptions for more than 200,000 doses of hydrocodone, 55,000 doses of carisoprodol, 14,000 doses of alprazolam, and 450,000 doses of promethazine with codeine.
Each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Operation Wasted Daze included contributions from the DEA Dallas Field Division’s Fort Worth Office, Homeland Security Investigations, the criminal investigations unit of the IRS, the U.S. Marshals, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Parker County Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Worth Police Department and the Arlington Police Department.
Not all drug crimes necessarily involve schemes this grand, however. On October 7, 2020, KXXV-TV reported that four people were arrested on drug charges after a woman’s overdose led to an investigation in Bellmead.
Bellmead Police, EMS and Ambulance personnel responded to a 9-1-1 call of an unresponsive person at a residence in Bellmead at about 4 in the morning where a woman was pronounced dead at the scene and the body was transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Dallas for an inquest by order of Justice of the Peace David Pareya. A search warrant for the premises was obtained and drugs, including methamphetamine, were recovered.
Three felony warrants for Possession of Controlled Substances were obtained and served with a fourth person arrested at the scene on drug charges. The four suspects ranged from 68 to 27 years of age, and the deceased woman was 40.
Law enforcement agencies around Dallas and many surrounding areas of Texas are regularly investigating different drug crimes of all sizes. It can be somewhat easy for certain people to get caught up in drug crimes when they may not have had any idea of what was actually occurring.
Possession of a controlled substance is undoubtedly the most common criminal offense people face in the Dallas area, and you need to understand the long-term consequences that even a minor drug possession charge can have for you. It is important to try and get these kinds of charges dismissed when possible to avoid potential complications later on in your life.
Some people involved in drug operations could face possible drug conspiracy charges, and these offenses can be much more likely to lead to felony charges that carry years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Drug trafficking and drug manufacturing are also two major criminal charges in drug cases that indicate large amounts of drugs having been involved.
You will want to make sure that you are working with an attorney who understands Texas Drug Courts and is capable of negotiating the most favorable possible agreement to resolve your case. Alleged offenders with no prior criminal records may be more likely to get their criminal charges thrown out when an arrest was made under more dubious circumstances or especially in cases of constructive possession.
Again, law enforcement generally prefers cases of actual possession of drugs when controlled substances are found in the actual custody of a person, such as in their hands or their pockets. Constructive possession is far more difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt because it involves drugs being found in locations in which multiple people might have had access.
Both of the cases we highlighted in this blog post involved multiple people being charged in connection to different drug crimes, and alleged offenders need to remember their rights at all times because police officers are not going to explain them. You will want to be sure that you immediately get yourself an experienced criminal defense lawyer for help understanding everything that you are able to do when accused of any kind of drug crime in Dallas.
If you were arrested in Dallas, Garland, Irving, or another community in Dallas County for an alleged drug crime, you are going to want to get yourself legal counsel right away. The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed.
Our firm has been handling all kinds of drug cases in North Texas for more than two decades. We will be able to discuss all of the options available to you when you call (972) 233-5700 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.