PHOENIX (AP) - Federal authorities have arrested a pharmacist and closed two Phoenix-area pharmacies as part of an investigation into the illegal drug distribution.
Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations executed eight search and arrest warrants Thursday in the Phoenix metro area.
Authorities obtained an indictment from a federal grand jury charging 38-year-old pharmacist Vilawoe Aku Boadu with distributing controlled substances including the painkiller oxycodone.
They say Boadu voluntarily surrendered her DEA registration. Thirty-one-year-old Michael Karron Holley, also known as Swerve Baller or Swerve B was also arrested.
Agents seized 13 handguns, three rifles and a shotgun, several bank accounts and nearly $200,000 in cash and assets as well as several vehicles including a luxury car.
Nearly 200 Arizonans have overdosed on pain pills in 2017 alone, highlighting the issues surrounding opioid use. Gov. Doug Ducey has declared it a health crisis in Arizona.
“These are very powerful substances, very highly addictive and if these get diverted for illicit distribution or even abuse, these have very serious consequences for our communities," said Erica Curry of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Phoenix Field Division.
According to the DEA, 4 out of every 5 new heroin users began their addiction from these prescription drugs. DEA agents are hoping their ongoing work will help stop the deadly epidemic.