LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – U.S. Justice Department officials say a new law enforcement strike force is being formed to combat opioid abuse in Appalachia.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski says the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force will investigate health care fraud schemes and prosecute medical professionals and others involved in the illegal distribution of opioids.
The Justice Department said Thursday that the strike force will bring together law enforcement and federal prosecutors. Participants will include the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General.
Benczkowski says the suffering caused by opioid abuse has been “particularly staggering” in Appalachia. He says the problem is “more reprehensible when unscrupulous physicians and pharmacies” contribute to the epidemic by illegally supplying prescription painkillers.