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Police arrest pharmacist on drug trafficking charge after raid

TAMPA — A pharmacist faces a drug trafficking charge following this week's raid of a pain clinic and pharmacy.

Christopher Stephen Switlyk, 31, is employed by VIP Pharmacy at 1947 W Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., one of three businesses searched Thursday by federal agents and Tampa police.

Accused of trafficking in oxycodone, Switlyk was being held without bail Friday.

Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said more arrests and charges are expected.

"It's an ongoing investigation, and we anticipate federal charges," she said.

Law enforcement hoped the bust and a new ordinance passed by the Tampa City Council on Thursday would send a strong message to pain pill providers and their customers.

The emergency law requires pain clinic operators to seek special permits and allows them to be inspected by police whenever they're open or occupied.

"We want to make sure that people are getting the standard of care that's deemed appropriate by the medical profession," McElroy said. "It should be a red flag to somebody who has a legitimate pain problem if they're going into a pain clinic that's a cash-only business."

She noted that a pain clinic not far from the raided businesses closed its doors Friday.

"It's possible that the search warrants yesterday are having a ripple effect," she said. "Businesses that are not operating within the law … (are) not going to be tolerated."

State records show that Switlyk has a clear and active pharmacist license that was first issued in July 2002.

Records show he also has a history of felony arrests. Since 2005, he has faced charges including sexual battery, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and aggravated stalking. He also picked up a misdemeanor possession of cannabis charge last year.

In each of those cases, the charges were dropped.

He has not been disciplined professionally because he was not convicted, Florida Department of Health spokeswoman Eulinda Smith said.

Dirk Weed, Switlyk's attorney, said he is gathering and reading the documents related to his client's latest arrest.

"We're still in the investigative stages," Weed said.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at cjenkins@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3337.

Police arrest pharmacist on drug trafficking charge after raid 05/21/10 [Last modified: Friday, May 21, 2010 9:32pm]
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