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Rip-Off Alert | Painkiller crackdown on opioid abuse and health care fraud

Painkiller graphic (MGN Online)

The Justice Department just announced the results of a nationwide painkiller crackdown that led to more than 400 arrests.

It's part of the agency's ongoing battle with opioid abuse and health care fraud.

Among the accused is a Las Vegas doctor -- an anesthesiologist who was indicted.

Dr. Camilo Primero, who ran Angel Eye Hospice here in Las Vegas, and his business partner, Aurora Beltran, were charged in a multi-million dollar rip off, involving false hospice claims.

They're a small sample of the hundreds taken down in what's being called the largest operation of its kind in our country's history.

The entire investigation involves more than a thousand law enforcement officers across the country targeting medical professionals. More than 200 clinics or hospitals are now in the process of being suspended or shut down.

"These defendants have defrauded tax payers of approximately $1.3 billion," said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Many of the alleged schemes centered around the growing opioid epidemic.

"Among those defendants announced today, 120 have been charged with opioid-related crimes, making this also the largest opioid-related fraud take-down in American history," said Sessions.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

In 2015, the latest data available, more than 50,000 died of an overdose. Around 33,000 of those involved opioids -- more than half of those from prescriptions.

"One doctor put 12,000 prescriptions for over two million illegal painkiller doses," said Sessions.

Officials say the round-up announced is part of an ongoing effort as they try to get a handle on a problem many say is out of control.

As for the Las Vegas case, according to court documents, not only did Dr. Primero illegally accept Medicare payments, but his California medical license was suspended during a state investigation into the death of a patient.

The doctor and his business partner are set to appear before a judge at the end of the month.

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