The demand for narcotic prescription drugs is so high that drug dealers will go to almost any length to get their hands on drugs to sell. A San Diego drug ring took this to an extreme by intercepting thousands of pills that were slated to be destroyed and selling them on the black market.
Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested John Bonavita and two employees of Enserv West LLC, a medical waste disposal firm. The employees diverted pills that were slated to be destroyed to Bonavita, who sold them to other dealers. As part of a plea agreement, Bonavita admitted to purchasing and reselling 13,000 hydrocodone tablets (a pain medication that’s sold under the brand name Vicodin), 900 oxycodone tablets (another painkiller sold under the name OxyContin), 111 methadone tablets and 350 morphine tablets.
The drug ring operated from 2009 to 2010. DEA investigators learned about the group when an informant who had purchased thousands of prescription pills from Bonavita began working with authorities in order to avoid prosecution.
Like many other cities in America, San Diego has a growing prescription drug abuse problem. There has been a marked increase in prescription drug overdoses, pharmacy burglaries and cases of prescription drug fraud since 2007. For the past two years, prescription
drugs have been the leading cause of accidental death in San Diego County.
The San Diego County Prescription Drug Task Force was formed in 2008 to combat the growing problem with the abuse of prescription medications like OxyContin. County officials have collected a significant amount of drugs during scheduled “take back” events where citizens are encouraged to turn in unwanted and unused prescription drugs. Since 2007, county officials have collected several tons of prescription drugs each year. It’s unknown if any of the drugs that were turned in at take back events were among the diverted drugs sold by Bonavita.
Due to his plea bargain, Bonavita was sentenced this week to five months in jail and seven months in a residential facility. His co-conspirators also pled guilty and received sentences that included jail time and probation.