Nearly three dozen Tennesseans are accused of conspiring to traffic painkillers and other prescription drugs like Xanex.
The defendants range in age from 22 to 73 – all from Crossville, which is about a hundred miles east of Nashville. They allegedly used phony prescriptions to get pills to sell, sometimes going out of state or through the mail.
Calling prescription-drug abuse an “epidemic,” U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin says the case is just a small example of a much bigger problem.
“Prescription pill abuse or distribution of prescription pills illegally is rampant throughout the country, and I think that Crossville is just a reflection of a larger problem that we have here in Tennessee and we have nationwide.”
Officials say the group also used violence and threats to collect debts and protect their supply – and their profits. Search warrants found more than a thousand pills, on top of 25 guns and more than $300 thousand in cash and jewelry.
Of the 33 indicted, 27 have been arrested so far; the names of the six others have not been released.