About two years ago, newly-minted Attorney General Pam Bondi made it her goal to go after prescription drug trafficking, distribution, and abuse.
As you may know, Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing scheme when it comes to prescription drug trafficking is draconian.
Mandatory prison terms for trafficking - which in Florida is solely based on possession by weight - range from 3 years all the way up to 25 years for prescription drugs such as oxycodone (OxyContin), alprazolam (Xanax), and hydrocodone (Vicodin).
Since Bondi made trafficking in prescription drugs her number one priority, Florida law enforcement agencies as well as federal agencies have been targeting pain clinics, known as “pill mills,” as well as those who visit these clinics with the intent of purchasing pills.
A recent study conducted to test the effectiveness of this law enforcement effort showed a 17% drop in prescription drug deaths in Florida.
The study also shows that fewer pain clinics are prescribing powerful narcotics such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.
These statistics will no doubt serve to motivate law enforcement into continuing the momentum. This can only mean more arrests, more targeting of pain clinics, and no end in sight to the harsh mandatory minimums.
Broward County - known as a hotbed of prescription drug activity - has ample resources dedicated to fighting prescription drug trafficking. The Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), along with local and federal agencies, frequently conduct undercover operations and surveillance on pain clinics suspected of recklessly selling prescription medication to patients without valid medical reasons.
Understand that the Florida legislature views trafficking in prescription drugs in the same light as murder and sexual molestation of a child. The mandatory minimums are the same.
If arrested and charged with trafficking in prescription drugs, do not speak to law enforcement and contact a criminal defense attorney.
Eric Matheny is a Miami trafficking attorney and Broward trafficking attorney.