DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A health clinic in DeKalb County has been raided twice in less than a month.
Channel 2's Ryan Young was at the clinic three weeks ago and again Tuesday when agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency made arrests. In the most recent raid, agents led Dr. Michael Assevero away in handcuffs as some of his patients wept.
"This is not a pill mill. This is far from it," patient Janice Bullock told Young.
She said she depends on doctors at Southern Health Management to manage her pain. She said she's spent years battling severe pain left from failed surgeries to repair her back.
During the last raid, agents arrested eight people and one doctor gave up his license to dispense prescription drugs. Agents said more evidence led them back to the clinic.
DEA Special Agent Chuvalo Truesdell said the pill mill trend is comparable to crack houses of the '80s.
"Back in the '80s, crack houses were being run by crack dealers and at this day and time, it's the clinicians running the pain clinics that are the dealers. A drug dealer is a drug dealer," Truesdell told Young.
But employees who run the center told Young people in pain are the ones being hurt by the raids.
The center's business partners, including Nick Stabile, said they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the clinic ready to help people.
"We see people in serious pain. They are not going to get enough to remarket the meds. We have great doctors. The DEA is looking to stop what we do," Stabile said.