A Manhattan doctor was arrested by federal agents Wednesday on charges he was supplying thousands of prescription pills to a drug gang that then sold them on the street.
Drug Enforcement Agents and U.S. marshals raided the Washington Heights offices of Dr. Felix Rodriguez and arrested him at his home in the early morning.
DEA officials said Rodriguez, an internal medicine doctor, wrote hundreds of prescriptions for designer drugs like Oxycodone for the drug gang. Gang members then allegedly sold the drugs on the street for as much as $30 per pill.
Nearly 50,000 pills were allegedly sold; investigators said Rodriguez pocketed more than $500,000. Investigators said the crew referred to pills as "jelly beans" during cell phone conversations.
DEA agents questioned Rodriguez in February after he made an apparent delivery in his Mercedes along Gun Hill Road in the Bronx. Prosecutors said Rodriguez claimed he was addicted to painkillers and that he writes prescriptions to patients, who then return the filled prescriptions to him in exchange for free medical care.
“Dr. Felix Rodriguez hid behind his white jackets while overseeing and facilitating an Oxycodone distribution ring in the Bronx,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Wilbert Plummer.
Officials said Rodriguez worked with at least five others who helped store the drugs in a Bronx safehouse.
Cocaine was also allegedly sold on the streets by members of the crew. Authorities found ledgers that contained names of customers and amounts; Rodriguez was named as a cocaine customer, prosecutors said.
The others involved are charged with drug trafficking counts. If convicted, the suspects could face a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to $4 million in fines.
Abuse of prescription drugs is now second behind marijuana the list of drugs abused by Americans, DEA officials said.
Investigators said the drug gang sold Oxycodone on the black market across Westchester and the Bronx.
More than five kilos of cocaine was also sold during the course of the investigation, prosecutors said.
Oxycodone is a painkiller that can be highly addictive.
In June, four people were shot and killed in a Long Island pharmacy where the suspects were allegedly trying to steal painkillers to feed their addiction. Across the nation, pharmacies have increasingly been targeted for hold-ups as criminal gangs and addicts try to get their hands on several kinds of prescription medications.
Attempts to reach Rodriguez’s attorney were not immediately successful. A woman outside his office declined to give her name but said the doctor was a caring man and she is shocked by news of his arrest.