July 31, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY PUTS PHARMACY OPERATORS AND PROPERTY OWNERS ON NOTICE
Curbing illegal drug use via shutdowns will keep communities safe
San Diego, CA (July 31, 2012) - United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy today announced enforcement actions against local pharmacies for distribution of drugs for illegal purposes. Immediate enforcement will target pharmacies in the Coastal areas of La Jolla, Carmel Valley, and Pacific Beach; chosen for both the high rates of pharmaceutical drug abuse and high property values of targeted pharmacies. Affected pharmacies will have 45 days to shutdown in order to avoid harsher penalties.
The Pharmaceutical shutdown initiative is aimed at curtailing drug abuse and its associated societal problems in the Southern District of California. Enforcement is proceeding against twenty pharmacies in San Diego County and will include actions such as:
- Civil forfeiture lawsuits against properties involved in drug trafficking activity, which includes, in some cases, sales consistent with state or local ordinances;
- Letters of warning to the owners and lienholders of properties where potentially illegal sales are taking place; and
- Criminal cases targeting commercial pharmaceutical activities.
“These pharmacies are not only about providing medicine to the sick. They are part of a pervasive for-profit industry that facilitates the distribution of drugs for illegitimate use. Doctors are prescribing unneeded medication; kids are overdosing on aspirin; police are finding pill bottles at junior high schools. Addiction and abuse of these drugs are serious problems in our communities and parents have come to me with their concerns. These pharmacies have provided not just medication - prescription and otherwise - but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public safety issues and often irreparable harm to our youth.” said Duffy.
The Southern District of California will be the first in the nation to confront the problems associated with drug abuse by targeting storefront pharmacies with asset forfeiture proceedings. The operation will also be a model of fiscal discipline as asset forfeiture may render enforcement efforts cost-neutral. If successful in San Diego, Duffy’s office will lobby for the implementation of this policy throughout the United States.
“Prosecutorial discretion means I decide how and when to enforce laws. Although this action is unprecedented, in my judgement it’s necessary to ensure we continue making progress in the war on drugs. Economic decline, climate threats, cybercrime, illegal immigration, and a general loss of faith in the political process have colored these drastic times. Now is the time to get tough in a fiscally responsible way.” Duffy stated.
Asset forfeiture is the seizure of property found to have been used for an illegal purpose. The tactic has been used to nearly end access to medical marijuana in San Diego. In 2011, the Southern District of California seized $29.7 million in property using asset forfeiture.
Though initially only twenty pharmacies will be targeted for closure, the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California will continue to investigate facilities which illegally provide dangerous substances to our communities.
For Press Inquiries contact:
Deputy Assistant to the US Attorney, Logistics and Narcotics