An emergency room doctor at Juan F. Luis Hospital is in the custody of federal agents on drug charges, according to U.S. Attorney James Hurd Jr.
Dr. Armondo Zabala was arrested Friday and charged with conspiracy to distribute and obtain cocaine and prescription drugs by fraud and misrepresentation. Prosecutors allege that since last year, Zabala was using and distributing cocaine and Xanax and Lorcet, both of which are pharmaceutical drugs.
Hurd said Zabala would illegally acquire the prescription drugs by writing "prescriptions in the names of accomplices, third parties in some cases without their knowledge, and fictitious persons."
In the instances involving accomplices, Hurd said Zabala would have the individuals get the prescriptions filled at pharmacies. The accomplices would then give some or all of the drugs to Zabala for his personal use and distribution, Hurd alleged.
Zabala had his initial court appearance Friday and was being held pending a detention hearing scheduled for Monday in District Court. Hurd noted that the complaint against Zabala only sets charges and is the basis of an arrest. He said that all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
If he is found guilty, Zabala faces four years in prison and a $30,000 fine. Hurd said an investigation is ongoing and encouraged anyone with information to call the High Intensity Drug Task Force on St. Croix at 692-9500.