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AG Hunter Writes Letter to Feds Requesting Opioid Industry be Treated as Criminal Enterprise

AG Hunter Writes Letter to Feds Requesting Opioid Industry be Treated as Criminal Enterprise

AG Hunter requests meeting to discuss federal, state effort

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting the federal government pursue opioid manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

The letter comes one day after Attorney General Sessions was in Oklahoma to discuss criminal justice issues across the United States.

Attorney General Hunter said the letter’s intent is to open communications to develop a federal and state partnership to combat the opioid epidemic.

“My letter to Attorney General Sessions is another necessary action as the state tries to pull itself out of this deadly epidemic and deal with those responsible for it,” Attorney General Hunter said. “The opioid industry has knowingly flooded the market with these deadly drugs and it is past time to hold them accountable. There is clear evidence of these companies spending millions of dollars on lobbyists and fraudulent marketing campaigns in order to get these drugs into communities across the nation.

“For nearly two decades, these companies pursued profit at any cost and without a conscious for the more than 90 men, women and children who, on average, die each day from opioid overdoses. We need to start treating the industry from the top down like the criminal enterprises they are.”

In the letter, Attorney General Hunter says he believes the most powerful tool to fight the epidemic is through the federal government and states’ RICO statute to pursue manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of opioids.

“For too long, the industry has been allowed to deceive medical providers and the public as to the efficacy and the addictive quality of opioids and has avoided meaningful regulatory enforcement in recent years as well as civil and criminal liability,” Attorney General Hunter continued. “The time has come to hold them to account.”

Closing the letter, the attorney general requested a personal meeting with Attorney General Sessions to discuss a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Justice and Oklahoma law enforcement officials to address the epidemic in Oklahoma.

Read Attorney General Hunter’s letter, here.

About RICO from the U.S. Department of Justice:

On October 15, 1970, the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 became law. Title IX of the Act is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, commonly referred to as the "RICO" statute. The purpose of the RICO statute is "the elimination of the infiltration of organized crime and racketeering into legitimate organizations operating in interstate commerce."

However, the statute is sufficiently broad to encompass illegal activities relating to any enterprise affecting interstate or foreign commerce.

Section 1961(10) of Title 18 provides that the Attorney General may designate any department or agency to conduct investigations authorized by the RICO statute and such department or agency may use the investigative provisions of the statute or the investigative power of such department or agency otherwise conferred by law. 

More on RICO can be found, here: http://bit.ly/2dZu9jn.