DPS: 18 people arrested for prescription drug fraud in El Paso
Officials with the Department of Public Safety said a total of 22 people took part in prescription drug fraud in El Paso within the last eight months.
So far, 18 people were arrested last week.
Authorities said they’re still looking for four people in connection with the investigation.
The investigation was focused in the fraudulent ways people are obtaining prescription drugs. Authorities said some of the drugs were coming from Mexico.
Authorities said the suspects were profiting or conspiring to profit illegally from prescription drugs, including hydrocodone, suboxone, methadone, tramadol, alprazolam, Tylenol with codeine, lyrica, phentermine and temazepam.
The following people were arrested:
- Leticia Cervantes, 60, of El Paso, Texas
- Mauricio Cervantes 43, of El Paso, Texas
- Cynthia Molinar 37, of El Paso, Texas
- Guadalupe Nuno 66, of El Paso, Texas
- Margaret Ziashkau 45, of El Paso, Texas
- Maria Porras 60, El Paso, Texas
- Myrna Dattoli 43, El Paso, Texas
- Diana Gonzalez, 35, El Paso, Texas
- Gracie Castillo 45, of El Paso, Texas
- Nicholas Castillo, 47, of El Paso, Texas
- Rosa Castillo, 76, of El Paso, Texas
- Mario Martinez, 22, of El Paso, Texas
- Maria Garcia 58, of El Paso, Texas
- Guadalupe Zamarripa, 70, of El Paso, Texas
- Debra Drost, 33, of El Paso, Texas
- Luis Iglesias, 49, of El Paso, Texas
- Alfonso Gil III, 38, of El Paso, Texas
- Rogelio Salas, 32, of El Paso, Texas
“As we have seen in other parts of the country hit hard by the opioid crisis, abuse of these drugs leads to countless shattered lives and tragically high rates of overdose deaths. For this reason, the DEA and our law enforcement partners in El Paso are committed to working together to investigate prescription fraud and stop those who illegally obtain and divert addictive pharmaceuticals," said said Kyle W. Williamson, special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) El Paso Division.
The Drug Enforcement Agency, El Paso Sheriff’s Office, the El Paso Police Department, the West Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Border Patrol and members of the 34th Judicial District Attorney’s Office were involved in the investigation.
Aliviane, a non-profit organization in central El Paso aides people to recover from substance abuse.
In the past three years, the organization has seen an increase in patients who seek treatment for prescribed medication, according to Claudio Castañon, coordinator at Aliviane.
The patients range from ages 20 through 70, according to a spokesman with Aliviane.
"We have seen grandmas coming in as well as athletes," said Castañon.
However, teenagers could also be affected because they might get pain killers from their parents or grandparent's medicine cabinet, according to a counselor.
Aliviane can be contacted here.