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Dozens Arrested in $10M Oxycodone Ring

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City doctor was charged with running an interstate smuggling ring that trafficked $10 million worth of oxycodone across several states, including Pennsylvania, where the investigation resulted in the largest prescription drug-related mass arrest in the state's history, authorities said Thursday.

Authorities said 49 people were arrested Tuesday, including the leaders of two major drug trafficking networks in Pennsylvania, after an undercover 15-month investigation conducted by the city's special narcotics unit.

Dr. Hector Castro, who ran the Itzamna Medical Center in Manhattan, pleaded not guilty to 39 counts of criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance in Manhattan's state Supreme Court.

More than 500,000 pills were dispensed from New Jersey pharmacies based on more than 4,500 prescriptions that came from Castro's office, authorities said. In New York, the state's health department cannot track prescriptions that are filled out of state.

The investigation was sparked by a fatal oxycodone overdose in Middlesex, New Jesey, in 2011. Officials say a pill bottle with Castro's name on it was found at the scene.

Authorities say Castro and his office manager, Patricia Valera, illegally distributed pills in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania during the past two years.

Valera, who lived in the Bronx, pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy and criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.

Castro was held on $500,000 bond or $250,000 cash.

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