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58 Arrested In Marion County Drug Bust

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MARION COUNTY, Fla.,None - Marion County was part of a huge prescription drug bust that stretched across 10 counties. Fifty-eight people were arrested in Marion County alone.

Detectives told WFTV Tuesday about the kind of drugs the suspects were selling and where they were selling them.

Investigators said 15 different kinds of powerful painkillers, including oxycodone, were sold and one of the suspect's ran his illegal business out of the parking lot of a local, legitimate business.

Undercover Marion County drug agents seized dozens of bottles full of prescription painkillers; more than 1,800 pills.

"All across the country and specifically in our area, this is the drug of choice," said Captain Lee Sullivan of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

The confiscated drugs included oxycodone, roxicodone and hydrocodone. They busted 58 people during a three-and-a-half month investigation called Operation Growing Pains.

The suspects were accused of buying and selling the prescription drugs.

Detectives said Domingo Ferreira was one of the major dealers, selling the painkillers out of his car outside an Ocala restaurant. Detectives said he liked to eat there. They wouldn't say which restaurant, but they say the owners had no idea Ferreira was running an illegal business in their parking lot.

Investigators said some of the dealers employed a group of people who went to pain management clinics.

"They'll take five or six individuals down to a particular pain clinic in Tampa and each one of them gets a prescription," Captain Sullivan said.

They then filled those prescriptions at local drug stores and turned the pills over to suspects like Ferreira. Investigators said it's easy to trick the pharmacists and doctors.

"They're going to different doctors. They're going to different clinics. They're going as far as producing fake MRI's because it's such a lucrative business," Sullivan said.

The street value of the pills seized in Marion County was nearly $30,000. During the raids, agents also found $30,000 in cash.