“Too Much Evidence” Leads to Dropped Charges

A Miami doctor, charged in Iowa with maintaining a huge illegal Internet pharmacy, is being let off the hook in part because there is simply “too much evidence.” According to the Associated Press, Armando Angulo was initially charged in 2007 and has since fled to his home country of Panama. The DEA has said the massive amount of evidence involved in the case is simply too much to maintain, so his charges have been dropped.

Angulo and several others were charged with the feds dismantled two Internet pharmacy sites that doled out prescription drugs to people without examinations and without interviews. In all, it’s estimated the sites sold 30 million pills.

In 2003 a small raid in an Iowa drugstore set off the investigation that eventually led to the conviction of 26 people including 19 doctors.

Because Angulo fled the country, his case was held in limbo in hopes that he would be caught coming back. (Panama will not extradite their own citizens.) Unfortunately for the feds, he didn’t come back and holding the evidence for his prosecution in limbo has reportedly been a taxing event.

The single defendant produced enough evidence to take up 5 percent of the DEA’s worldwide electronic storage. In addition, there were several hundred boxes of paper evidence including 440,000 documents, and numerous computers, servers, and other items.

If the DEA had the latest in technological storage, they would reportedly not have any problem keeping the evidence indefinitely. But, they are a government agency and like many, are behind the times.

“A responsible organization doesn’t upgrade every time new technology is available. That’s all they would be doing,” said University of Iowa computer scientist Douglas Jones. “But the result is you end up in situations like this where the capacity they have is not quite up to the incredible volume of data involved.”

As a result, a doctor who was at the center of a large prescription drug ring doesn’t have to worry about criminal charges that could have put him away for decades. But, who knows if he’ll be brave enough to venture back into the U.S.

Online prescription abuse and fraud continues to be a real problem, from pill mills that pass as pain management centers in Florida, to widely available online pharmacies with highly questionable legality.

About David Matson