Members of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration raided a Chalmette pharmacy Wednesday morning as part of an ongoing investigation into the sale of prescription painkillers.
Shortly after 7 a.m., members of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office and the DEA issued seizure warrants at Wilkinson Family Pharmacy at 3001 Paris Road, according to a law enforcement source. Warrants have been issued for the pharmacy's owner, Keith Wilkinson, and a business partner, the source said.
Online records show Wilkinson and Joshua Norrell are the only two pharmacists registered to work at the business.
A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office confirmed the agency was working “in conjunction with the DEA investigating the operation of Wilkinson Pharmacy," but declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.
According to the law enforcement source, the amount of opiates dispensed at the pharmacy was “off the charts,” making it one of the highest-prescribing pharmacies in the state for opiates.
The investigation comes amid increased efforts by federal, state and local agencies to crack down on the illegal sale of prescription painkillers and a heightened concern at the national level for the health crisis caused by the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Drug overdoses in Orleans Parish soared last year, and for the first time in New Orleans history, deaths from accidental drug overdoses surpassed murders in 2016.
The startling rise in drug-related deaths has become a national public health crisis, claiming more than half a million lives from 2000 to 2015, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Authorities would not confirm whether Wilkinson or Norrell was arrested, and jail records did not show that either man had been booked as of Wednesday afternoon.
Records show both Wilkinson, 41, and Norrell, 31, attended Xavier University's College of Pharmacy. Neither returned calls seeking comment.