In two separate, unrelated, undercover investigations, PCSO narcotics detectives arrested two Polk County pharmacists for Trafficking in Prescription Drugs.
During one investigation, a PCSO undercover detective took a prescription written for 30 Oxycontin pills, 60 mg each, to the Med Express Rx pharmacy located at 1717 Shepherd Road in Lakeland. The prescription was written by a dentist in Lakeland who was working in cooperation with law enforcement.
When the undercover detective arrived at the pharmacy, she handed the prescription to the pharmacist, 35-year-old Ashish Patel of Valrico, and asked him to change the prescription to Oxycodone. The undercover detective also filled in a blank, signed prescription that was given to her by the dentist, for 30 Oxycodone 30 mg pills. Although Patel made several comments about how unusual it was for a dentist to write these prescriptions, and noted that the handwriting on one (the one filled out by the detective) was different than the other, he negotiated with the detective and agreed to sell her 70 Oxycodone 30 mg pills for $1000 cash. He gave her 50 pills that day, and she paid him $1000. He told her to come back the next day for 20 more pills. When she returned the following day, he asked for $540 more and agreed to give her 10 additional pills. In all, the undercover detective paid Patel $1540 for 80 pills.
During the negotiation, Patel asked the detective to roll the windows down on her car so he could see inside and confirm there was nobody in the car with her. He also asked her if she was a law enforcement officer.
The transactions of Oxycodone pills took place at the pharmacy, which is within 1,000 feet of a day care facility.
On Wednesday, September 5, 2012, detectives placed Ashish Patel under arrest and charged him with one count Trafficking in Oxycodone (F-1), one count Sale of Oxycodone Within 1,000 Feet of Child Care Facility (F-1), one count Possession of Oxycodone Within 1,000 Feet of Child Care Facility (F-1), and one count Maintaining Structure for Trafficking (F-3).
In another investigation, a confidential informant told detectives that 36-year-old Kalpeshkumar Patel of Orlando (no relation to Ashish Patel of Valrico) who is a pharmacist at The Apothecary Shop located at 437 South 11th Street in Lake Wales, sells prescription medication without prescriptions.
The confidential informant agreed to introduce an undercover PCSO detective to K. Patel as her brother. The detective and informant went into the pharmacy, and the informant told K. Patel that the detective was her brother, and that he wanted to buy pain medication for him. Patel asked the detective if he had a prescription, and the detective told him that he did not. Patel told the detective to “hold on,” and then retreated to the rear of the pharmacy. Patel came back and handed the detective an orange pill bottle filled with 18 Hydrocodone pills, saying “here we go.” Patel refused to take any money for the pills. Patel labeled the bottle with the informant’s name and address, his own initials, and the date July 10, 2012, which was the last time the informant came into The Apothecary with a valid prescription for the controlled narcotics.
On Wednesday, September 5, 2012, Kalpeshkumar Patel was placed under arrest and charged with one count Trafficking in Hydrocodone (F-1).
“There is a serious problem in Florida and the rest of the U.S. of people illegally obtaining and abusing prescription drugs. During these two investigations, we arrested two men who we know are directly responsible for part of this problem. Working with agencies such as the Department of Health allows us to take a closer look at the actions of medical professionals and pharmacists, and work on this problem at the front end. We will continue our investigation into the illegal activities of these two pharmacists, and we will continue to work undercover throughout Polk County to identify others who are committing similar crimes.” – Sheriff Grady Judd