21 arrested in prescription drug ring bust

Posted at: 02/14/2013 7:24 PM
Updated at: 02/14/2013 7:51 PM
By: Gadi Schwartz, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A year long federal investigation into forgeries of prescription pain killers in the Albuquerque Metro has lead to the arrest of 21 suspects and the seizure of 50,000 pills.

Agents from the DEA and local law enforcement spent the early hours of Thursday morning making arrests at homes in Albuqeruque, Los Lunas and Rio Rancho.

KOB was there when a woman in Taylor Ranch was led out of her home in cuffs while a young child watched from a window.

Investigators say the suspects come from all walks of life, including an A-P-S special education assistant and a State Human Resources employee.

New Mexico ranks among the highest in the nation for prescription drug overdose deaths. The Albuquerque Metro's overdose rate is twice the national average.

Special Agent Keith Brown says in the eyes of the law fraudulently obtained pain killers are treated the same as any other drug bought on the street.

"They're just like heroin, they're just like cocaine, they're just as illegal to sell, they're just as dangerous to take, and they will kill you just as dead," said Brown.

14 of the suspects will face federal drug charges that could result in up to four years in prison.