Drug trafficking is a serious criminal offense that can reach the federal level depending on the drugs possessed. A trafficking conviction can result in anywhere from three years to life in prison.
One of the most significant convictions in recent memory occurred with a former Florida doctor, Barry Schultz. In July 2018, he received a conviction of 157 years in prison for trafficking illegal drugs. This comes on the heels of a previous conviction where he was found guilty of being responsible for one of his patients dying due to a drug overdose.
Schultz received a trafficking sentence in 2015. A jury initially found him guilty on 55 counts of drug trafficking and subsequently sentenced him to 25 years in prison. However, a sentence from the state appeals court found that sentence to be too light, considering he prescribed around 20,000 narcotic pills in just one year to various patients. The patients mostly came from Delray Beach to find relief from their pain.
Schultz operated a cash-only pharmacy, and this business made over $10,000 weekly by prescribing various narcotics. The Assistant State Attorney initially wanted the maximum sentence of 55 consecutive life sentences. The minimum amount for 55 drug trafficking counts was 157 years, which is what he received.
During the sentencing, Schultz had an opportunity to address the courtroom. He stood by what he proclaimed during the trial in that he thought he helped all these people. He said his goal was to help relieve pain, and he believed what he did was legal.
This particular incident is a good example of what has occurred around the United States in recent years. Prosecutors have cracked down on doctors illegally prescribing excessive medication in the face of the opioid epidemic taking over the country. Organizations like the one Schultz oversaw are “pill mills” in the eyes of the law, and they have destroyed numerous lives. Efforts will hopefully curb the number of people who abuse opioids.