The prescription painkiller business was booming in 2009, making millionaires of Chris and Jeff George, twin brothers who operated several pain clinics in South Florida. Unfortunately for them, their customers had a tendency to die, and not always in a subtle fashion.
In November of that year, three customers were on their way to a George brothers' clinic when the driver tried to weave her Toyota Camry through the lowered arms of a train crossing. The car was struck by commuter train going 79 mph. The driver and a passenger were ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. The third occupant died six months later.
An associate of the Georges who read about the accident in the paper called Chris George to break the news. "Did it say they were pain clinic people?" George asked.
South Florida -- and the Georges, in particular -- were the vanguard of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls an "epidemic" of oxycodone addiction and death -- one that had attacked America more suddenly than any drug has before.
In 2008, prescription painkiller overdoses killed 14,800 Americans. In 2009, when the George clinics were at their peak, opioid abuse propelled a ghastly rise in the number of drug-related deaths nationwide. That year, 37,485 Americans died from narcotics overdoses -- a figure that for the first time surpassed the number of deaths from car accidents.
It's a long article, but those skeptical of DEA's work might reconsider by the time they get to the end.