Los Angeles County's top prosecutor urged the public on Tuesday to report the illegal trafficking and overprescription of opioids to her office for potential criminal prosecution.
"We must do everything in our power to stop the flow of these deadly drugs into our community, whether they are bought illegally on the streets or legally with a valid prescription, District Attorney Jackie Lacey said.
"Reporting this crime will help us save lives."
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Members of the public can submit written non-emergency complaints with information about the illegal trafficking or overprescription of opioids including hydrocodone and oxycodone and synthetic opioids including fentanyl to the District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation at 211 W. Temple St., Third Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
The complaints must include details of the alleged incident, including names, dates and copies of supporting evidence including prescriptions, receipts, statements and photographs, according to the District Attorney's Office. More information on the complaint process and a copy of the complaint form are available through the district attorney's website at da.lacounty.gov.
According to a study by the LA County Department of Public Health, California had one of the highest counts of overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017.
Between 2006 and 2015, the number of overdoses from prescription opioids in LA County nearly doubled from 449 to 775, the study reports.
The office noted that it aggressively prosecutes manufacturers and sellers of illegal narcotics and those who unlawfully prescribe controlled substances.
Those prosecuted in recent years include:
-- Hsiu Ying "Lisa'' Tseng, a former Rowland Heights ostheopathic doctor who was convicted in October 2015 of second-degree murder for the prescription drug overdose deaths of three of her patients within less than a year. Tseng -the first doctor in California to be charged with murder for the deaths of patients given prescriptions for drugs - was sentenced in February 2016 to 30 years to life in state prison. The California Supreme Court refused in March to review the case against her.
-- Gerard Goryl, a doctor who ran a diet clinic in Redondo Beach and pleaded no contest to 38 felony counts for selling hydrocodone and Xanax to undercover officers without any physical examination or medical need. He was sentenced to seven years behind bars, and his license was revoked, according to the Medical Board of California's website.
-- Richard Kim, a Rancho Palos Verdes doctor who was convicted of illegally prescribing medications to undercover operatives working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He was sentenced in September 2016 to three years in county jail followed by two years of mandatory supervision. He surrendered his medical license.
-- Yahya Hedvat, a doctor who sold prescriptions to undercover officers from his Encino medical clinic and was sentenced to two years in county jail after being convicted in 2014 of unlawfully prescribing controlled substances.