Published on June 28th, 2013 | by Daniel R. Perlman0
Bond set at $3.5M in medical drug trafficking case
A South Florida man who is accused with his wife and mother of trafficking in expensive AIDS, cancer, anti-psychotic and other pharmaceutical drugs is being held in Broward’s Main Jail on $3.5 million bond.
Jorge Castillo, 43, is believed to have operated a trafficking ring that brought in more than $26 million from drugs acquired from unlicensed sources that were then sold to retail pharmacies in at least 18 states, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
The majority of those drugs were diverted from the Medicaid and Medicare programs and even purchased from Medicaid recipients on the street, authorities said.
It “essentially had taxpayers picking up the tab for illegal activity,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement.
Castillo’s lawyer, Jamie Benjamin, who represented Castillo during his first-appearance court hearing Tuesday, called the high bond “Draconian.”
“This isn’t a drug-trafficking case where there [were] multi-kilos of cocaine moving internationally,” Benjamin said, “This is a fraud case based on arguably gray-market pharmaceuticals, and whether or not he was mainly involved or owned companies that other people may have been involved in, we don’t know.”
Investigators say that since at least 2006, Castillo bought contraband pharmaceutical drugs from suppliers in South Florida, New York and New Jersey. Those drugs were then shipped to Detroit and taken to a warehouse, where they were repackaged and sold to 72 retail pharmacies at about 25 percent below the wholesale price, authorities said.
Assistant statewide prosecutor Oscar Gelpi said Castillo’s alleged involvement in the trafficking of pharmaceuticals is far more dangerous than that of illicit drugs. Castillo dealt in the black market with “tainted sources” and “counterfeits” and cancer and AIDS patients who unwittingly may have taken placebos or drugs with adverse effects, he said.
“He’s buying from unlicensed criminals on the streets of Miami. He’s peddling these medications throughout the country,” Gelpi said. “This actually carries a much higher risk to the public than trafficking cocaine.”
Castillo was charged with two counts of contraband drug trafficking of $25,000 or more, obtaining property over $50,000 by fraud and five counts of money laundering of $100,000 or more.
His wife, Vicky Castillo, 42, and mother, Graciela Quevedo, 60, were also involved in the scheme, FDLE said. They were each charged with two counts of contraband drug trafficking of $25,000 or more and obtaining property over $50,000 by fraud. Each of their bonds was set at $450,000.
When the three were arrested Monday at their home in Miami Lakes, authorities seized two Maseratis, a Range Rover and a boat, Gelpi said. He also told Broward County Judge John “Jay” Hurley that Jorge Castillo had access to $5 million.
Gelpi said other family members are also being investigated.
Citing extensive local family ties, Benjamin sought a lower bond but Hurley deemed Castillo a flight risk and kept the amount at $3.5 million.
“Seventy-two distribution points of what could be fraudulent drugs, placebos,” Hurley said. “The court is concerned how many people perhaps through discovery would be found to have passed away believing they were taking legitimate cancer drugs.”
Source: sun-sentinel.com “Bond set at $3.5M in medical drug trafficking case,” June 28, 2013.