Sentencing of pill mill ringleader suggests major progress in fight to close illegal clinics

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A rash of pill mill raids from Boca Raton to Jupiter last summer revealed the severe drug dilemma in Palm Beach County.

Friday's sentencing of the man who orchestrated one of the biggest pill mill networks in the nation, suggests the tables are turning.

"That sends a strong message to everyone else we won't tolerate it. There are severe penalties put in place if you get caught doing that," says Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.

31-year-old Jeff George is set to spend the next 15 years behind bars for running a West Palm Beach clinic blamed in dozens of overdose deaths. Sheriff  Bradshaw wasn't specific on how many similar cases his detectives are working, he estimates it somewhere between five and fifty.

"The ones that are out there that we believe are involved in illegal activity, we're on to them," says Sheriff Bradshaw.

"There are half as many pain clinics in Palm Beach County than there were a year ago. We've really got these guys on the run," says Dave Aronberg, who serves as Special Counsel for the state's Pill Mill Initiative.

Over the last year almost 1800 arrests have been made by the state, effectively closing 27 clinics. But the fight doesn't stop there.

"We have to continue legislative efforts to close any loopholes in the laws and we've done a good job on that, but we need to be vigilant because these guys try to stay a step ahead," says Aronberg.

Both the Sheriff and Aronberg say there will never be another pain clinic ringleader like Jeff George.

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