North Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Targets Prescription Drug Traffickers in “Operation Growing Pains”


North Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA)today announced the arrest of 135 individuals and the seizure of almost 17,000 prescription pills and more than $3.6 million in “Operation Growing Pains,” an aggressive 14-week investigation targeting North Florida prescription drug traffickers. Phase one of the multi-agency operation began Sept. 1 and culminated with a final arrest round up and drug seizures on Dec. 15.

“Clearly the increase in illegal use of pharmaceutical drugs is attacking many Florida communities,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Jacksonville Special Agent in Charge Dominick Pape. “Only by a coordinated team approach like this can law enforcement continue to combat this ever increasing threat.”  
The first phase of the operation focused on identifying, disrupting and dismantling prescription drug trafficking organizations and criminal enterprises responsible for the diversion and the illegal procurement and dispensing of pharmaceutical drugs. A second phase of this operation is currently being developed to continue to attack this growing problem.
According to the 2010 Interim Report by Florida Medical Examiners on Drugs Identified in Deceased Persons, during the first six months of this year, 1,268 people died statewide as a result of prescription drug overdose.  Seven Floridians die from a prescription drug overdose each day.  From 2003 to 2009, the number of drug overdose deaths in Florida increased by 101.6 percent, and each one involved at least one prescription drug.
The North Florida HIDTA is comprised of city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies from 10 counties: Alachua, Baker, Clay, Columbia, Duval, Flagler, Marion, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns.  During 2010, the North Florida HIDTA Annual Drug Threat Assessment identified a shift whereby the diversion of pharmaceutical drugs escalated to the region’s top drug threat.
For Further Information Contact:
Heather Smith or Keith Kameg
FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001