Sarasota Sheriff: 61 arrests in RX fraud ring - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Sarasota Sheriff: 61 arrests in RX fraud ring

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Pedro Alcantara, alleged leader of prescription fraud ring in Sarasota Pedro Alcantara, alleged leader of prescription fraud ring in Sarasota

New details are surfacing about a huge suspected 61-person prescription drug ring in Sarasota accused of getting their hands on nearly 20,000 pain pills.

"This is by far and beyond the most complex, interesting, and time-consuming legwork type of investigation that we've encountered," said Sgt. Debra Kaspar, of the Sarasota Co. Sheriff's Office Pharmaceutical Diversion Investigative Unit.

Investigators say it centers around Pedro Alcantara, the accused ringleader and that 60 other Sarasota County residents recruited for the ring or used their own personal information to get prescriptions. The fraudulent prescriptions were able to sneak past 220 times for a grand total of 19,980 Oxycodone pills, according to deputies. The street value would be about $300,000.

Detectives believe the group used a stolen and inactive ID number from a Miami Doctor and say that should've been a warning sign for pharmacies.

"You got to ... ask yourself: If you're a local hometown pharmacy, if you're servicing that community and you know the people coming to your pharmacy, you know the doctors in that community … should there not have been a red flag," said Sarasota Sheriff Thomas Knight.

His investigators say the culprits would show up at pharmacies with identical prescriptions and always paid in cash. Recruiters chose two primary pharmacies: Olson Liggett Rexall Drug in Sarasota and Barclay Pharmacy in Venice, according to deputies.

News Channel 8 attempted to contact owners of those pharmacies. Employees said the owner of Liggett wasn't there, and Barclay's employee told us the owner was too busy to speak about it.

"You'll hear now at times that people who need those drugs are having a hard time getting it because we have certain pharmacies that want to turn a blind eye to an opportunity to do what's right," Sheriff Knight said. "They have a responsibility to people because they're providing an addiction problem."

Investigators say Alcantara is behind bars in Miami, where he faces other unrelated charges. He's charged in this case with Conspiracy to Traffic in Oxycodone. Deputies have arrested the other 60 people during the past several months. They tracked down one of them at the Tampa International Airport where she was attempting to catch a flight to Cuba. 

 

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