Drug Raid at Riviera Beach VA - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Drug Raid at Riviera Beach VA

RIVIERA BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Nearly two dozen people are accused of running a prescription drug operation out of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Riviera Beach.

The Multi-agency Diversion Task Force that raided the VA Thursday morning consisted of four agencies: Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office; State Attorney's Office; U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs and the Office of Inspector General-Criminal Investigations Division.

The raid is the result of a seven-month undercover investigation called "Operation Tango Vax."

The sheriff's office says warrants were issued for the arrest of 21 people. They include both hospital patients and employees. A pharmacy technician, a respiratory therapist and several nursing assistants were among the VA workers arrested.

Investigators spent the morning searching vehicles and interviewing potential witnesses and taking suspects into custody.

"It really hurts my feelings that you know these people are here to take care of us and there's people here that are selling drugs you know and everybody knew this for a long time and I guess it's been going on until they could track down the correct people and I'm glad that they did that," said VA patient Robert Bates.

"That's the good thing. Finally somebody's brought it to attention and that's good, that's good yes," added VA patient David Pond.

Investigators say they went undercover several months ago and posed as hospital workers. Those undercover agents say they were able to buy prescription drugs, largely oxycodone, from hospital staffers as well as veterans who sold their own medication.

Investigators say they seized about 6,000 oxycodone pills, 2 vehicles and $200,000 in cash.

"The VA Center is almost like a little city. There's 8-to-10 thousand people a day that come through here, receiving services...it's a unique facility. There's a lot of people here. A lot of the drugs were coming off the street and being brought into here, so uh, there's a little bit of everything that was happening here," said Capt. Eric Coleman with the PBSO Narcotics Division,

Others outside of the hospital have also been targeted.

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