Gramercy doctor busted for interstate drug trafficking

Strike Force Agents, Officers and Investigators were involved in a bust that led to the arrests of 49 people, including a Manhattan doctor, on charges of interstate drug trafficking. (Courtesy of Department of Justice.)
Strike Force agents, officers and investigators were involved in a bust that led to the arrests of 49 people, including a Manhattan doctor, on charges of interstate drug trafficking. Credit: Department of Justice

A coalition of federal and local officials announced Thursday the arrest of a Gramercy doctor and his office manager.

Dr. Hector Castro and Patricia Valera are being indicted on charges of trafficking oxycodone, a highly addictive prescription painkiller, between New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

An additional 47 people were arrested this week, including major drug kingpins in Pennsylvania.

The arrests occurred as part of a 15-month investigation known as Operation Cuba Libre.

Agents and officers also seized 30 guns in a series of court-authorized searches: 28 in Pennsylvania and two in New York.

Castro is accused of funneling more than 500,000 pills into the black market, amounting to at least $10 million.

Castro, Valera and three other defendants were arrested in New York and New Jersey. Another 43 suspects are being charged in Pennsylvania.

Castro is charged with the illegal sale of 39 prescriptions for $125 each, including 28 prescriptions sold to a Special Narcotics undercover officer. He was arrested at his Midtown West home at 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Valera is being charged with carrying out a forgery and “criminal diversion” scheme, stemming from 155 prescription sheets she stole from Castro and his brother, also a doctor.

Castro’s brother is not accused of any wrong-doing.

Authorities say Valera’s husband, Hector Rodriguez, was also part of the scheme. They were both arrested at their home in the Bronx Tuesday morning, and when agents searched their home, they found a loaded shotgun, approximately $8,000 in cash and blank prescription sheets in Castro’s name as well as his brother’s name.

Valera allegedly sold 155 stolen prescription sheets for $500 per sheet. Many of the sheets were purchased by competing prescription drug trafficking rings in Pennsylvania.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly commended the New York Drug Enforcement Strike Force “on their vigilance and persistent effort to prosecute prescription drug dealers and distributors who maltreat the medical profession.”

“When individuals enable and exploit others’ addictions to line their own pockets, as well as possess illegal guns, the NYPD and its partners in federal law enforcement will investigate and indict them,” Kelly vowed.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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