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Oxycodone trafficking crackdown appears to be working

Posted on February 06, 2012 3:00 AM EST

Oxycodone trafficking became such a problem in South Florida that new legislature and law enforcement action became a primary mission. Recent statistics show that the number of oxycodone dispensed by doctors was drastically reduced in 2011. Multiple high-profile arrests and stricter state laws are supposedly responsible. Miami criminal attorneys have seen the number of arrests and prosecutions for trafficking oxycodone significantly increase over the past couple of years. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, oxycodone sales by doctors decreased by 97%. In 2010, doctors were responsible for the distribution of 46 million oxycodone pills, but only distributed 1.1 million pills in 2011.

Proponents of the new legislation passed last July would have you believe that the biggest reason for the drop in distribution is the new laws. The legislation prevents doctors from dispersing oxycodone pills directly from their offices. Several doctors were charged with accepting cash from out-of-state patients. Federal authorities would have you believe that the recent arrests have reduced the distribution of illegal substances by putting pressure on pain clinics and clinic owners. Whatever the theory, something appears to be working. In 2010, 90 of the top prescribing doctors practiced medicine in Florida, while in 2011, the number dropped drastically to 13. Not surprisingly, sales from doctors in Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee have increased over the same period of time.

Another theory is that the significant penalties that attach to oxycodone trafficking charges have become common knowledge. The possible sentences for all drug trafficking charges are severe, but none more severe that of oxycodone. Florida drug trafficking laws do not require the intent to traffic or import illegal substances. Mere possession of an illegal substance of a weight deemed to be a trafficking amount is enough to be charged with the offense. When it comes to trafficking in oxycodone, an amount of between 4 and 14 grams, will subject an individual to a three year minimum mandatory sentence in state court. Possession of 14 to 28 grams or in excess of 28 gram subjects a defendant to a 15 and 25 year minimum mandatory sentence, respectively. The penalties are far more severe than in cocaine and marijuana trafficking cases. In addition, marijuana and cocaine trafficking cases require much greater weights to be charged with a trafficking offense.

While all three points can be attributed to the recent declines in the sale of oxycodone, the result is likely a combination of the three. While the DEA and the legislature think they have solved the problem, it may only be a temporary fix. Several years of data will be required to determine if the problem is under control. For all those who distribute oxycodone, be aware that just because oxycodone is legal prescription drug, that does not give everyone the right to dispense it or merely possess it. Anyone carrying oxycodone is required to have a prescription. Any one arrested for possession of an illegal substance or trafficking in an illegal substance, whether it is oxycodone or other form of pain killer, should seek advice from a qualified defense lawyers with experience in defending these cases both in state and federal court. The consequences of a poor defense could be devastating.

Sales of Oxycodone by Doctors Fall in Florida, Miami Herald.com, January 31, 2012.
Categories: Drug Offenses