Authorities raid clinic as part of expansive investigation
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- As part of an investigation stretching all the way to Connecticut, agents from the DEA and Broward Sheriff's Office conducted a joint raid on an alleged pill mill in Fort Lauderdale.
Early Wednesday morning, several agents stormed into a medical clinic located at 935 Intracoastal Drive in Fort Lauderdale. They arrested two clinic employees, including the clinic's doctor, Vijay Chowdary, and his office assistant. They happen to be brothers.
They were among seven people charged with oxycodone conspiracy. Jane Feehan is one of the many residents who did not like what they saw going on at the clinic and had become suspicious. "We see cars with out-of-state license plates all the time over there," she said.
Jay Schafer, another resident of the neighborhood, said, "You see all the paraphernalia around the area there, coming out, using it immediately, so it's no question what it was, and it doesn't belong in this neighborhood."
Neighbors said they had long suspected the clinic was a pill mill, noticing that it drew hundreds of people with out-of-state license plates on a daily basis. "There's a lot of people loitering around throughout the day and sometimes after hours," said Feehan, "which makes it very uneasy for us that want to take walks at night."
Schafer noted of the customers who visited the clinic: "We had a lot of problems with them coming down to our property, and we have a lot of people here who are a little nervous about that, and we have signs that we put up, but they just went right on the property. I have maybe five or six situations where I had to chase them off."
In 2011, then Sheriff Al Lamberti and concerned residents protested outside the clinic to stop what they called illegal activity, but it did little to deter anything. Wednesday morning, that changed. Mona Lewis said she was surprised by the raid. "I saw one car, two car, must have been about eight cars, and these men jumped out with black shirts on with something written on them, and I go, 'What's happening?'"
In all, seven federal indictments had been issued as well as four search warrants. One person has been arrested in Connecticut and three others were placed into custody. One person, however, remains at large. He has been identified as Hector Bruno.
A Davie home was also searched and authorities confiscated a boat and a car, one of 20 they took away as part of the expansive operation. This raid was part of an 18-month joint investigation between BSO and the DEA. "It makes us very uneasy and we're glad to see this happening," said Feehan. "We hope they stay closed."
Wednesday evening, police and DEA remained on the scene of the Fort Lauderdale medical clinic investigating and questioning patients there.
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