For three years now, the Drug Enforcement Administration and its state and local partners have been keeping a close eye on Dr. Sanjay Sinha. Investigators say the Georgia doctor has been writing hundreds of pain med prescriptions for profit.
Wednesday, a federal indictment was unsealed alleging that for at least five years now Dr. Sinha has been coming to South Mississippi to sell these powerful pills for profit.
"Prescriptions are a major problem and it's a gateway to other illegal narcotics," Drug Enforcement Administration Resident Agent in Charge Danny Comeux said.
Law enforcement officials say Dr. Sinha would visit the coast four to six times a year, but would continue funneling drugs this way even after he went home.
Assistant US Attorney John Meynardie said, "He would send prescriptions to certain individuals here and they would get Western Union money sent to him. So it was not just while he was here, it was also while he was in Georgia."
The indictment also names three coast men: Joshua Locke, Robert Thorton II and John Mattina. The trio is accused of helping the doctor sell the prescriptions illegally.
"The doctor in this investigation, he frequented casinos. And when he frequented casinos, he befriended some of the employees," Comeaux said. "He gained their trust and then began providing prescriptions to employees. And as he began providing prescriptions, it obviously became a profitable margin for casino employees."
The MS Gaming Commission, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, US Attorney's Office and Biloxi Police assisted in the investigation. All agree the arrests are a big victory for the entire community.
"The pain and suffering these individuals have caused over the years is just terrible," Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said. "All for the almighty dollar and we are glad to see an end come to it."
"Just because you are a doctor does not mean you can do illegal things along this coast," Comeaux said. "We will continue to investigate any and all that are doing illegal prescription selling."
Dr. Sinha was arrested in Georgia on Monday and will remain there until he can be extradited. Federal officials said John Mattina of Ocean Springs turned himself in to authorities Wednesday night after our story aired. The two other local men named in the case appeared in federal court Wednesday afternoon and will be back before a judge Thursday.
This case doesn't stop with the federal charges. The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and Biloxi Police said nine others face state charges related to the illegal prescriptions.
Six have been arrested, but three others have not been picked up. Investigators said they are some of the people who bought the pain pills.
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