Last week, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey announced the arrest of a Bergen County doctor accused of distributing opioids without a legitimate medical reason, and falsifying medical records to cover it up.

Authorities say Robert Delagente, 45, of Oakland, called himself the "El Chapo of Opioids" and the "Candy Man." He faces one count of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, and one count of obstruction of justice.

Special Agent In Charge of the FBI in New Jersey Greg Ehrie said this arrest should be viewed as a wakeup call and a warning by other Garden State doctors — law enforcement officials are cracking down on this kind of behavior.

“We have joined together with our local and state partners. We’re actively investigating multiple physicians, doctors who are over-prescribing, knowingly over-prescribing opioids.”

He said doctors who improperly prescribe opioid drugs are contributing “to this plague that’s attacking New Jersey, not only our young but across all spectrum citizenry here."

"We’re going to find you and arrest you for this," he said.

Ehrie said when the FBI, New Jersey State Police and other agencies work together, "we are exceptionally good at this.”

He stressed the penalties in these kinds of federal cases are extremely stiff.

“I would remind all of these physicians, doctors who are over-prescribing, there is zero tolerance for drug abuse," he said. "You have now not become a doctor. You have kind of forfeited that. You are now a drug dealer.”

If convicted, Delagente could face a maximum up to 20 years in federal prison and $1 million in fines.

Ehrie said the FBI and other agencies are working on outreach as well.  He said in various school programs students are being reminded “this is a deadly epidemic."

"Fentanyl can kill an elephant. It’s made to tranquilize elephants. Even a microgram of this on a human has a devastating effect," he said. "We want them to know about that. We prefer them to stay away from all drugs, but to at least be aware of the immediate danger of the fentanyl and opioid issue.”

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You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com