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Physician couple by day, online drug lords by night

Becoming a medical doctor is a tremendously serious decision. Physicians are upheld to some of the highest standards of integrity and the lowest forgiveness for human error, in any occupation. They must complete many years of schooling, long residencies and often survive on little sleep while being constantly on call for emergencies. They are expected to perform lifesaving miracles, examine the most intimate parts of the human anatomy and prescribe medication with a high potential for abuse. However, they are also expected to remain detached from any human frailties or misconduct. In short, doctors are expected to be something a little beyond human - for good reason.

Yet for some doctors, the pressure is too much, and they fall prey to the temptations of the trade. Colorado residents may be interested in the recent story of an engaged couple of medical residents in Wilmington, Delaware, who, according to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, was moonlighting as a team of online drug traffickers.

One doctor had recently finished her residency, but not yet cleared to distribute controlled substances. The other, still in residency, was authorized to legally distribute controlled substances like opiate painkillers, stimulant medication and THC. They allegedly concealed the drugs in candy boxes and sold them on the underground website, Silk Road, which specializes in illicit transactions using anonymous Bitcoin currency.

Unfortunately, they sold to the wrong person. An undercover DEA agent noticed that someone with a suspicious handle was selling controlled medications and offering advice about topics like administering heroin injections or making homemade codeine cough syrup. He posed as a customer. Just as even the most high-integrity physician can sometimes snap under pressure, even the most clandestine website is only as secure as the humans using it. They did not think to hire an uninformed assistant to handle their shipping errands, and it was an automatic postal machine photo of one of the doctors that led the agent to the other evidence.

The physician with the controlled substance clearance was released after posting $50,000 bail, handing over her controlled substance registration and agreeing to not see patients. Her fiance remains in custody. Even if they confess to these crimes, their criminal defense attorneys could present mitigating factors in their situation or prove that the magnitude or circumstances of their online business is less extensive than allegations assert.


Source: 
USA Today, "Two Del. Doctors tangled in Silk Road legal mess" Esteban Parra, Dec. 05, 2013

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