Federal prosecutors have filed criminal charges against drug distributor Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC) and two of its former executives.

The charges, a first, targeted at legal painkiller wholesalers for contributing to the opioid epidemic.

Prosecutors allege executives shipped tens of millions of oxycodone pills, as well as other drugs like opioid fentanyl, to pharmacies that they knew were not distributing them legally from 2012-2017.

Historically, authorities have used civil penalties rather than the criminal justice system to go after distribution companies that fill suspicious orders of drugs.

The felony drug trafficking charges the two men are facing are essentially the same as ones the feds might bring against operators of a wholly illicit drug cartel.

RDC is the sixth largest pharmaceutical distributor in the U.S. and distributes to hundreds of pharmacies across much of the Northeast.


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