Drug Enforcement Administration statistics indicate that 50 percent of the drug problem in the United States today is from prescription drug abuse.
In October 2009, troopers began an investigation called “Operation 971.” The number “971” refers to the state statute for obtaining prescriptions by fraud. During the course of the investigation, troopers worked closely with pharmacies and doctors in the area to identify potential violators. Troopers also worked closely with local law enforcement agencies to raise awareness by providing hands-on training, technical assistance and investigative strategies.
During the year-long investigation, troopers gathered evidence on various individuals. While conducting the investigations, three of the individuals being investigated died as a result of drug overdose. Additionally, if violators were employed as civil servants or medical/pharmaceutical employees, they were arrested immediately, such as in the case of a former Youngsville Police Officer, Stephen Gardner.
Based on the evidence gathered during the operation, troopers obtained arrest warrants for the following people:
Donna Wyble, 51, Opelousas, obtaining prescriptions by fraud.
Demitric Williams, 31, Opelousas, obtaining prescriptions by fraud.
Amy Westmoreland, 30, Lafayette, obtaining prescriptions by fraud.
Shae Brignac, 32, Rayne, distribution of oxycontin.
Brian Henry, 26, Crowley, distribution of oxycontin.
Charles Evans, Sr., 52, Rayne, distribution of lortab.
Michelle Barres, 41, Rayne, distribution of ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine.
Raven Alexander, 30, Lafayette, obtaining prescriptions by fraud.
Jason Abate, 39, New Iberia, doctor shopping.
Randy Courville, 50, Milton, distribution of xanax, soma.
All of the individuals were taken into custody without incident.
“We will continue to work closely with doctors, pharmacies, and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that illegally obtained pharmaceuticals are kept off the streets,” said Lieutenant Benny Broussard, Lafayette Field Office supervisor.
This operation remains under investigation, and other arrests are expected.
If you know anyone involved in the purchase or sale of illegal, or prescription medication, you are asked to call State Police at 337-262-3341.