Operation Pilluted nets 280 individuals, 20 doctors and pharmaci - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Operation Pilluted nets 280 individuals, 20 doctors and pharmacists in 4-state drug bust

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

Federal authorities, along with state and local law enforcement partners, conducted coordinated enforcement actions Wednesday against  280 individuals and 22 doctors and pharmacists, allegedly involved in the illegal distribution of prescription drugs in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spearheaded this 15-month enforcement action, known as Operation Pilluted. Nearly 1,000 law enforcement officers were involved in Wednesday's operations.

DEA Agents in Operation Pilluted utilized intelligence data, information provided by state and local law enforcement, and complaints made by citizens, to identify DEA Registrants[1] and others involved in prescribing, obtaining, and distributing dangerous and addictive controlled substances such as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and Xanax. 

In 2013, approximately 43,982 unintentional drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, one death every 13 minutes. Nearly 52 percent of those deaths (22,767) were attributed to prescription drugs. Of these, 71 percent (16,235) were attributed to opioid overdoses.

[1] A Registrant is a person authorized by DEA to prescribe, dispense, and administer controlled substances.

As part of the operation, a federal grand jury indicted Shanta R. Barnes, 29, of Baton Rouge with obtaining oxycodone by fraud, health care fraud, and aggravated identity theft. 

According to the indictment, Barnes committed her crimes while serving as the program director of an in-patient drug rehabilitation and detoxification treatment center in Baton Rouge known as Louisiana Health and Rehabilitation Options. 

The indictment alleges Barnes used patient information, without their knowledge or authorization, to fraudulently obtain and distribute thousands of prescription drugs and to fraudulently obtain reimbursement from Medicaid for the drugs.

These individuals from Baton Rouge have been charged as a result of the investigation:

Dylan Kendall Bateman, 23 of Greenwell Springs, LA is charged with conspiracy to obtain CDS by fraud and conspiracy to distribute schedule II.

Michael Stephen Calamia, Jr., 23 of Greenwell Springs, LA is charged with conspiracy to obtain CDS by fraud and conspiracy to distribute schedule II.

Dain J. Deroche, 26 of Gramercy, LA is charged with conspiracy to obtain CDS by fraud, conspiracy to distribute schedule II and conspiracy to distribute schedule IV.

Monique L. Dudley, 50 of  Baton Rouge, LA is charged with conspiracy to obtain CDS by fraud, conspiracy to distribute schedule II and conspiracy to distribute schedule IV.

Andrew Lloyd Gilmore, 44 of Baton Rouge, is charged with conspiracy to obtain CDS by fraud, conspiracy to distribute schedule II, conspiracy to distribute schedule IV and conspiracy to distribute schedule V.

Roderick Terrell Pondexter, 30 of Central, LA is charged with conspiracy to obtain CDS by fraud, conspiracy to distribute schedule III and conspiracy to distribute schedule IV. Pondexter is still at large.

Julie Beck Schopfer, 54 of Baton Rouge, LA is charged with conspiracy to obtain CDS by fraud and conspiracy to distribute schedule II.

Christian Noel Thierry, 39 of Baton Rouge, LA is charged with conspiracy to obtain CDS by fraud conspiracy to distribute schedule II and conspiracy to distribute schedule V.

Bonnie M. Toppins, 21 of Baton Rouge, LA is charged with conspiracy to obtain CDS by fraud, conspiracy to distribute schedule III and conspiracy to distribute schedule IV.

Robert Elvis Waldon, 70 of St. Francisville, LA is charged with conspiracy to obtain CDS by fraud, conspiracy to distribute schedule II, conspiracy to distribute schedule III and conspiracy to distribute schedule V.

This investigation remains ongoing with more arrests possible.

U.S. Attorney Green stated: "The abuse of prescription drugs is a growing epidemic which has destroyed too many lives and families. This is another great example of this district's law enforcement community coming together at all levels – federal, state, and local – to tackle a serious crime problem. I greatly appreciate the excellent work and dedication of the agents and prosecutors handling these important matters and look forward to continuing to support this effort."

DEA Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Joseph Shepard stated: "Today's enforcement efforts conducted by DEA Baton Rouge, along with our federal, state, and local partners, is a shot across the bow of would-be drug dealers who chose to illegally distribute prescription drugs meant to help citizens in our communities with serious health concerns. Operation Pilluted is our regional public response to these criminals. These arrests are only the beginning."

There were a total of 21 search warrants executed across Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. 51 vehicles, 202 weapons, and $404,828 in cash were seized in the operation. The report states 73 seizure warrants were executed which resulted in the seizure of $11,651,565 USC and $6,745,800 in real property.

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