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ROC Weekly News Bites
‘Monumental’ Drug Bust, Addiction Treatment Fraud Scheme, Drinking Alone Linked to Problematic Drinking Later in Life
Here is a recap of some of the top industry-related news stories of the week:
‘Monumental’ Drug Bust: 5,000 Pounds of Meth Seized in National City
Authorities made one of the largest methamphetamine busts ever in San Diego County, seizing more than 5,000 pounds of the drug and arresting four Tijuana men as they worked to unload it in National City.
Sheriff’s detectives discovered the massive load of narcotics while tracking a truck that was connected to another large seizure of methamphetamine two months ago, according to an agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Prosecutors charged the four men Friday in U.S. District Court on drug trafficking conspiracy charges. Federal officials said the seizure is “believed to be one of the largest” ever in San Diego County, calling it “monumental.”
The 20-foot box truck that was allegedly hauling the narcotics crossed the U.S.-Mexico border through the Otay Mesa Port of Entry’s commercial lanes, according to a probable cause statement written by DEA Special Agent Rashaad Scott.
Law enforcement officials were immediately notified of the truck’s international border crossing because, according to Scott, “the same box truck was associated with a 1,772-pound methamphetamine seizure” on May 12 in San Diego.
Prosecutors said the law enforcement officers found 148 bundles of methamphetamine that each weighed between 10 and 60 pounds, with a total weight of more than 5,000 pounds.
According to Scott, all four men denied knowing what exactly they were moving.
Addiction Treatment Facilities’ Medical Director Sentenced in $112 Million Addiction Treatment Fraud Scheme
A Florida doctor was sentenced to 54 months in prison for engaging in a scheme that fraudulently billed approximately $112 million for substance abuse services that were never provided or were medically unnecessary.
According to court documents, Jose Santeiro, 62, of Miami Lakes, worked with others to unlawfully bill for approximately $112 million of addiction treatment services that were never rendered and/or were medically unnecessary at two addiction treatment facilities where Santeiro was the medical director. The facilities were Second Chance Detox LLC, dba Compass Detox (Compass Detox), an inpatient detox and residential facility, and WAR Network LLC (WAR), a related outpatient treatment program.
Santeiro and others admitted patients for medically unnecessary detox services, the most expensive kind of treatment the facilities offered. Patient recruiters offered kickbacks to induce patients to attend the programs and then gave them illegal drugs to ensure admittance for detox at Compass Detox. Evidence at trial also showed that Santeiro submitted false and fraudulent claims for excessive, medically unnecessary urinalysis drug tests that were never used in treatment. Santeiro and others then authorized the re-admission of a core group of patients who were shuffled between Compass Detox and WAR to fraudulently bill for as much as possible, even though the patients did not need the expensive treatment for which they were repeatedly admitted. Santeiro also prescribed Compass Detox patients a so-called “Comfort Drink” to sedate them, ensure they stayed at the facility, and keep them coming back. The evidence further showed that Santeiro’s log-in was used, with his knowledge, by others to sign electronic medical files to make it appear as if Santeiro had provided treatment himself when he did not.
Drinking Alone in Young Adulthood Linked with Alcohol Problems Later in Life
Drinking alone in adolescence and young adulthood may be a “red flag” for alcohol problems later in life, especially for women, a new study has found.
Girls who drank alone were at particular risk of developing symptoms of alcohol abuse, dependence, and addiction by the time they reached their mid-30s.
“We see a strong signal that drinking alone is worrisome and predicts problems… We think it’s because these kids are using alcohol as a way to cope with feeling down and depressed and lonely.”
That strong warning signal was there even when researchers controlled for other “robust risk factors,” such as binge drinking, frequent drinking, and low socio-economic status, said Kasey Creswell, the lead study author and an associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
About 25% of adolescents and 40% of young adults reported drinking alone. This study’s data collection stopped in 2019, but newer research shows there’s been an increase in solo drinking during the pandemic, plus an increase in depression and anxiety, Creswell said.
“It could create this perfect storm where people might be developing a problematic relationship with alcohol as a way to cope with those negative emotions,” she warned.
The likelihood of reporting severe alcohol abuse symptoms at age 35 was 59% higher for adolescent solitary drinkers and more than two times as high for young adult solitary drinkers, compared to social drinkers.
“Rather than using adaptive coping mechanisms like socializing with friends or going to parties or exercising, these kids are developing a really worrisome and problematic relationship with alcohol early on. We think that’s why it’s predictive of future problems,” Creswell noted.
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