At American Pain in Lake Worth on Dixie Highway, agents were carting records from the offices into a marked box truck. Similar scenes were playing out at Executive Pain and East Coast Pain clinics on Okeechobee Boulevard west of West Palm Beach.
The raids were part of an intensive, long-term probe by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and other agencies into pain clinics owned by Jeff and Chris George, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk about the case. Twenty-nine-year-old twins, Jeff and Chris George are sons of prominent Florida real estate developer John Paul George.
Representatives of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI declined to comment, citing the ongoing probe.
The George brothers have opened at least five pain clinics in Palm Beach and Broward Counties since 2008, records show. Two clinics, American Pain and Executive Pain, are operated by companies managed by the Georges' mother and a woman identified in sheriff's records as Chris George's girlfriend, respectively.
"They're searching all of them," said Jeff George, reached by telephone this afternoon. He said he spoke this morning with agents of the IRS, DEA and FBI but said they hadn't taken him into custody. He said he retained attorney James Eisenberg.
"Right now I'm not sure what's going on," George said. "I'm just kind of hanging out."
American Pain first opened in 2009 on North Federal Highway in Boca Raton. It moved this year to a sprawling, 14,000-square-foot building in Lake Worth, where as many as six doctors were seeing a near-constant stream of patients.
Agents executed federal search warrants on a number of properties owned by the Georges in Palm Beach and Broward counties, the source said.
Among the properties searched this morning was a Wellington house owned by Chris George, at 3485 Lago De Talavera, said Teri Barbera, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman. While scouring the house, agents discovered a suspicious item and called for the sheriff's bomb squad to stand by, Barbera said. She declined to comment further.
Companies managed by Chris George also own two nearby lots in the Talavera neighborhood, records show.
The raids occurred amid a chorus of cries from Palm Beach County commissioners and municipal leaders to curb pain clinics, mushrooming businesses that authorities say supply drug traffickers and fuel rising rates of overdose deaths.
Cash-and-carry pain clinics have created an illicit pill pipeline that stretches from South Florida to the black markets of the Appalachian Mountains, authorities said.
Problem pain clinics first sprang up in Broward County and are spreading across Florida, but Palm Beach County has emerged as a leader in attacking the businesses in aggressive and creative ways.
Today's raids follow a string of votes by city and county officials banning the opening of new pain clinics in Palm Beach County. Following This week, both Lake Worth and Jupiter passed pain clinic moratoriums. Riviera Beach is slated to vote on one Thursday night.
Among the people operating at least 100 pain clinics in Palm Beach County are convicted drug traffickers and doctors who repeatedly broke state rules, a Palm Beach Post review found last year.
Records show more than 900 pain management businesses operate statewide.