A joint operation between Lafayette, Indiana police and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) led to the arrest of four doctors whom authorities say took advantage of their patients’ addictions by over-prescribing dangerous drugs, often without performing the proper medical exams beforehand.
Last month, authorities raided four separate medical clinics in the Lafayette area, arresting four doctors as well as seven people whom they believe participated in the drug trafficking operation. According to the police reports, the four doctors arrested in the drug bust operation were illegally prescribing suboxone — a synthetic variant of heroin — in exchange for cash. Patients would walk into the clinic with cash in hand, and walk out with the drugs. Authorities believe the patients at these practices rarely went through the normal examination procedure that’s required by state and federal law for doctors to prescribe controlled drugs.
The four doctors being accused of illegally prescribing drugs are:
- Dr. Larry Ley, of Noblesville
- Dr. George Agapios, of Fishers
- Dr. Ronald Vierk, of Richmond
- Dr. Luella Bangura, of Lafayette
Each doctor is facing multiple felony counts.
“There were no physical or mental exams,” said Maj. Aaron Dietz of the Carmel Police Department. “Patients walked in, paid their cash and walked out with prescriptions.”
Dietz noted that the initial visit to these clinics typically cost patients (or drug addicts) $300. Follow-up refill appointments, however, were slightly cheaper at just $120-$160. It’s unclear how much money these “pill mills” earned during the course of their operation, but similar operations have yielded hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So, how were local law enforcement officers and DEA agents able to uncover these operations? Police say it was a months-long investigation involving the use of undercover agents that ultimately spurred the doctors’ arrest. Undercover agents were able to purchase the suboxone on 27 different occasions throughout the course of the investigation.
Pill mills have become a growing problem not only in Indiana, but throughout the entire country. Doctors open practices with the sole purpose of prescribing pain killers and other addictive drugs to patients who may or may not need them. Rather than weening their patients off these potentially dangerous drugs, they continue to feed their addiction by selling them additional refills. It’s a viscous cycle that has spurred both state and federal law enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal sales of prescription drugs through clinics and medical offices.