PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Some say it is a big victory in the fight against prescription pill abuse.
Several doctors and pain clinic owners are now facing federal charges, accused of illegally distributing prescription pills.
Five federal indictments were unsealed revealing charges against 22 people including six doctors and five pain clinic owners, some in Pike and Johnson counties.
The indictments were released Friday accusing nearly two dozen people of pill mill related charges including owners of a Johnson County pain clinic that was shut down earlier this year.
"A clinic which really existed to facilitate the illegal distribution of narcotics," said US Attorney Kerry Harvey.
Indictments suggest co-owners of Caremore pain clinic Tammy Cantrell and Shelby Lackey made nearly $2 million dollars by illegally selling prescription pain pills.
Another indictment says Marrowbone Hometown Pharmacy manager Beverly Lockhart worked with Pikeville doctor Thad Manning to illegally sell drug samples.
The indictment says Lockhart and Manning knowingly sold, purchased, or traded the drug samples and lied about it to authorities.
It also says Lockhart committed health care fraud by making insurance claims that did not really exist.
Sources say the drug epidemic is reaching an all time high, especially when those behind the counters are the ones in trouble.
"It's usually about the dollar. They're worried about the money. They're wanting easy money, and I put them in the same place as any drug pusher. They should lose their license and be sentenced to whatever," said an anonymous source.
"We have communities that are literally drowning in a sea of pills, and these indictments come from a concerted, relentless effort to fight back against the scourge of prescription drug abuse," said Harvey.
They say the most commonly abused drugs in these indictments are Oxycodone and Hydrocodone.
Tammy Cantrell and Shelby Lackey both pleaded not guilty Friday morning in federal court.
Thad Manning and Beverly Lockhart will be arraigned at a later date.