Two Doctors, Pharmacist Arrested In Biloxi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Two Doctors, Pharmacist Arrested In Biloxi

BILOXI (WLOX) -- Two Biloxi doctors and a pharmacist face federal drug charges. They're accused of running an illegal prescription drug operation out of their Division Street businesses.

Under arrest are Dr. Victoria Van and her husband Dr. Thomas Trieu, pharmacist Nick Tran and Richard Trieu who worked in his brother's office. All are charged in a 22 count indictment alleging a conspiracy to write and fill illegal prescriptions for pain medications and other narcotics.

Action Reporter AJ Giardina had exclusive access to this investigation. More than a year ago, tips came into the WLOX Action line from worried parents who said their adult children were hooked on drugs. They believed the clinic and pharmacy on Division Street was their supplier.

As AJ began to investigate, he learned federal authorities already had Doctors Van and Trieu under investigation. Wednesday morning that investigation ended with raids across the southeast, and the arrests in Biloxi at the Division Street clinic.

Federal agents escorted Dr. Thomas Trieu from his clinic on Division Street in handcuffs. Close to 100 law enforcers were standing by, ready to search the Family Medical Center and Tran's pharmacy next door.

"This has been an ongoing investigation, about a year now," Rodney McGilvary told WLOX News. "We received a lot of complaints from citizens in Biloxi and up and down the coast about this situation here."

The situation, according to the federal indictment, was an illegal prescription drug operation. Investigators believe Dr. Treiu and his wife, Dr. Victoria Van, wrote prescriptions for narcotics that customers took next door to Nick Tran's pharmacy to be filled.

"This is far reaching, involving millions and millions of dollars," McGilvary said.

Joel Reece is the lead DEA agent on this case.

"This is a substantial investigation especially for pharmaceutical drugs," Reece said. "They are all associated with the Family Medical Center here in Biloxi and they are charged with federal violations of Title 21 for dispensing Schedule 3, 4 and 5 narcotics."

The indictment alleged the doctors wrote prescriptions for pain killers like codeine, xanax, lortab and other drugs. The federal undercover investigation began more than a year ago.

"Intelligence in their investigation had told us that people come from several states in the Southeast, some as far away as Tennessee, to visit Dr. Trieu and to get their illegal narcotics," Reece said.

In fact, as agents were searching the clinic and pharmacy, seizing drugs, documents and other items, police stopped more than a dozen suspected customers of the drug ring who drove up. Police used drug dogs to search the cars and ended up arresting a handful of them after finding drugs in the cars or discovering outstanding warrants.

Pat Thornton lives across the street from the clinic and pharmacy, and wasn't surprised when dozens of police cars descended on the neighborhood.

"I kind of suspected something was going with all the traffic that had been coming through here," Thornton said.

Investigators say on any given day, 200 customers would show up at the clinic looking to get their drugs. Thornton says from what he saw, he can believe it.

"They would park along the side of the building along here, and you couldn't get a mini-cooper through there, let alone a fire truck," Thornton said. "I'm glad to see it being cleaned up, because you wouldn't believe the people that come through this place."

The indictment alleges the four began the drug conspiracy in 1997. All are being held without bond awaiting their first court appearance before Judge Roper Thursday. Investigators tell WLOX News that they expect to make more arrests connected to this case.

By AJ Giardina

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