Next time your uncle tells you we need a wall to keep drugs out of our country, pass along this story by Robert Snell at The Detroit News, which is both depressingly familiar and uniquely enraging every time we read it, or dozens like it -- a tale of how doctors set up an entirely legal dealership to pour powerful narcotics into the community.
The FBI painted a deadly portrait of life inside Pain Center USA, which rose to prominence amid the nation's opioid epidemic, as part of its federal filing to convince a judge to approve the seizure of almost $26 million from the clinic's owner and medical team.
Until federal agents shut down the clinic in December, Warren's Pain Center USA had an armed guard, a body count and standing orders for patients to undergo unnecessary back injections in exchange for pain pills, according to a briefly unsealed search warrant affidavit obtained by The News.
...Clinic doctors prescribed more than 13 million doses of opioids and billed medical insurers almost $500 million since January 2013, according to the grand jury indictment filed in December.
We've read this story before, in Michigan and elsewhere, but the details are always freshly appalling, particularly how open and obvious these operations are, or were, because they were run by M.D.s and dealt legal drugs.
The clinic, where one patient overdosed on heroin in a waiting room in October, is closed, and the parking lot is empty, except for a row of statues marking the doctors' reserved parking spots. They depict Roman goddesses, including Venus and Diana the Huntress.
If you take away only one lesson from this, let it be this: Beware the doctor whose reserved parking space is marked by a statue of a Roman goddess.