CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Logan building had no running water or examining tables, and the Texas doctor running it did not have any medical equipment on hand, but he did have a prescription pad, authorities said.
Dr. Fernando Gonzalez-Ramos, 47, of El Paso was arrested Sunday morning at his makeshift office on Old Logan Road after federal, state and local authorities showed up with a search warrant.
Gonzalez-Ramos was charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, according to federal court documents. He is a practicing physician at the VA Hospital in El Paso but is licensed in West Virginia and Puerto Rico.
Officers began conducting drive-by surveillance of the office in December, noting the steady flow of people coming and going. Surveillance revealed one person spent five to 10 minutes inside, according to a search warrant.
A State Police trooper watching the office on Dec. 1, a Saturday, noted about 50 vehicles stopping in a two-hour period.
The FBI obtained a search warrant for the office Friday and was still conducting surveillance Saturday. Officers noted a number of people going into the building, including a patient who was secretly working with authorities.
The patient went inside and paid $450 in cash for a prescription of hydrocodone. She was in and out of the building in about three minutes, according to a criminal complaint filed late Monday and made public Tuesday.
Officers were back at the building about 8 a.m. Sunday. They found people waiting in a line outside.
When officers executed the search warrant about two hours later, they found the inside of the building "full of people waiting to get their prescriptions," the complaint said.
"It was clear that the prescriptions were being written outside the bounds of professional medical practice and were not for legitimate medical purposes," the complaint said.
"First, the building was not set up or furnished like a doctor's office. There were no examination tables, Gonzales (sic) did not have any medical equipment (no stethoscope, blood pressure machines, scales), and the building did not even have running water."
The employees described at the office were an armed security guard, a bodyguard carrying brass knuckles and a nurse/receptionist. Investigators said the nurse collected $450 cash from each customer getting a Schedule III drug and $500 from those getting a Schedule II narcotic.
The prescriptions were all prewritten and stored in patients' files, the complaint said.
The nurse, whose name has not yet been released, told investigators she made appointments with patients for the times Gonzalez-Ramos told her he would be in town. He traveled back and forth between Logan and Texas.