KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Federal prosecutors say two people in Italy and five U.S. residents have been charged in a fraud and drug trafficking conspiracy to distribute opioids in Florida and Tennessee, leading to hundreds of deaths.
The indictments were unsealed by federal officials Friday in Knoxville but handed down earlier this month. They allege the defendants were involved in a widespread scheme to operate "pill mills" in the U.S.
Prosecutors say the defendants ran the Urgent Care & Surgery Center Enterprise, which distributed enough oxycodone, oxymorphone and morphine to generate clinic revenue of at least $21 million.
The indictments say about 700 center patients are dead. A Justice Department news release says a "significant percentage of those deaths, directly or indirectly, were the result of overdosing on narcotics" prescribed by the center.