Opioid distributors are up on charges—again. Prosecutors indicted an Ohio-based drug distributor and two former executives Wednesday for allegedly conspiring to shovel millions of painkillers into Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio, the Washington Post reports. The distributor, Miami-Luken, allegedly brushed aside "obvious signs" of drugs entering the black market from 2011 to 2015 and made $173 million in sales annually. The now-defunct distributor sent 120 million pills in seven years, per the AP, and allegedly shipped nearly five million to a pharmacy in Oceana, West Virginia, home to 1,394. Former Miami-Luken execs Anthony Rattini and James Barclay were charged along with two small-town pharmacists. They each face up to 20 years behind bars.
It's part of a new federal strategy that began in April with charges against another distributor. Back in 2016, DEA investigators wanted to charge executives at McKesson Corp., America's biggest drug distributor, but were stymied by federal officials. Now the Post reports that distributors drowned America in 76 billion opioid pills from 2006 to 2012—way more than we knew—as opioid deaths climbed from about 18,000 to more than 23,000 annually. "There's a need, in my opinion, to devote sufficient charges right here and now to stop the dying," says US Attorney Benjamin Glassman of the new indictment. "We have to devote the resources to cut off the supply of the drugs, whether it's synthetics or it's prescription opioids or both." (Here are the 10 states with the most drug abuse.)