Federal prosecutors charged drug distributor Rochester Drug Cooperative and its former CEO with drug trafficking charges Tuesday — the first criminal charges for a pharmaceutical company and executives in the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis.
The charges signify a groundbreaking move by the government to try to combat the opioid epidemic, which kills 130 Americans every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the first time, a pharmaceutical company and white collar executives were charged like street dealers and traffickers.
“This prosecution is the first of its kind: executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself have been charged with drug trafficking, trafficking the same drugs that are fueling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging this country. Our Office will do everything in its power to combat this epidemic, from street-level dealers to the executives who illegally distribute drugs from their boardrooms,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York charged Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC), one of the country’s largest distributors of opioids, with “knowingly and intentionally” violating federal narcotics laws “by distributing dangerous, highly addictive opioids to pharmacy customers that it knew were being sold and used illicitly,” according to a press release.
RDC was also charged with failing to properly report thousands of suspicious orders of oxycodone, fentanyl and other controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), officials said.
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