U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Cleveland Wednesday afternoon to talk about three local cases aimed at slowing the opioid crisis.
The first involved the country's first-ever civil order that stops two Northeast Ohio doctors— Michael Tricaso, D.O. of Akron and Gregory Gerber, M.D. of Sandusky — from prescribing drugs.
"These doctors were simply drug dealers in white lab coats," U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said. Federal court documents allege Tricaso and Gerber prescribed opioids illegally.
Federal documents also allege Gerber took $175,000 between 2012 and 2016 from Insys Therapeutics, Inc. to promote a liquid formulation of fentanyl applied under the tongue, a spray used to treat cancer-related pain.
"The physicians in this investigation were nothing short of automatic prescription machines to anyone who solicited," DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy Plancon said.
The second case involved a 43-page indictment of two Chinese nationals accused of shipping powerful synthetic opioids to 25 countries and 37 states, including Ohio. The indictment also alleges the drugs sold by Fuijing Zheng, aka Gordon Jin, 35, and his father Guanghua Zheng, 62, led to the fatal overdoses of two people in Akron.
"Fentanyl and its analogs are the number one killer drug in America today, and most of them come from China," Sessions said.
The third case revolved around a recent operation to shut down the country's biggest "dark net" distributor of drugs, a large-scale operation with ties to Northeast, Ohio. A Euclid man pleaded guilty to operating a dark net fentanyl business from an apartment with children inside and just a short distance from an elementary school.