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michael jackson:

DEA searches Vegas pharmacy in probe of doctor

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Justin M. Bowen

Law enforcement officials executed a search warrant Tuesday at Applied Pharmacy, 6370 West Flamingo Road. Authorities said the search is part of the probe of Michael Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray.

Updated Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009 | 1:12 p.m.

Pharmacy Raid in Michael Jackson Death Investigation

Law enforcement officials executed a search warrant Tuesday at Applied Pharmacy, 6370 West Flamingo Road. Authorities said the search is part of the probe of Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray. Launch slideshow »

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson and members of his entourage ride inside a vehicle just outside the Green Valley Ranch Casino in Henderson on Nov. 20, 2003. Jackson left Las Vegas on that morning and flew to Santa Barbara, Calif., to turn himself in to authorities on charges of child molestation. He landed at the Henderson Executive Airport that afternoon and drove around Las Vegas and Henderson in a black sport utility vehicle for more than two hours. Launch slideshow »

Federal agents searched for records of controlled substances at a Las Vegas pharmacy this morning as part of an investigation into the death of Michael Jackson.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency assisted by state and local law enforcement went to Applied Pharmacy Services on West Flamingo Road near Jones Boulevard about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. The search is part of a probe of Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who has offices in Las Vegas and Houston.

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press today that Murray purchased a powerful anesthetic from the pharmacy. The official said agents uncovered evidence that Dr. Conrad Murray legally purchased the anesthetic propofol there.

The official spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. Murray's attorney Edward Chernoff had no immediate comment.

“They are looking at everything that was provided by that pharmacy,” including records of controlled substances, DEA spokesman Jose Martinez said this morning.

Jackson's death is being investigated as a manslaughter and propofol, which Jackson took as a sleep aid, is a main focus.

This is the four records search in connection with Murray. DEA agents seized computer and paper files at the physician's home in a private gated community and at his East Flamingo Road office in Las Vegas on July 28, and a week earlier at his Houston office.

The Nevada State Board of Pharmacy said Applied Pharmacy is in good standing in the state.

The pharmacy board took action against pharmacists Jessica Nguyen and Timothy A. Lopez at Applied Pharmacy Services in July 2008 for failing to keep proper records and for failing to have the education and experience in filling a prescription properly, a board spokeswoman said. The pharmacists and pharmacy were fined $1,225 and completed education courses.

Shortly after 11 a.m., the pharmacy’s doors swung open and several DEA agents carrying boxes of files quickly exited, followed by an exodus that included other agents -- one still wearing a mask -- and officers from Metro and LAPD and the pharmacy’s employees.

Some employees covered their faces as they scurried to their cars; others were escorted by officers. Within minutes, the building and parking lot were empty except for members of the media and two Metro Police officers left to guard the pharmacy’s door.

Susie Twasta, a nurse at ALS of Nevada, which has an office next to Applied Pharmacy, said she was surprised by the scene when she arrived at her office shortly before the raid’s conclusion.

“I don’t really know what to say, other than it seemed to be a busy pharmacy,” Twasta said. “I never saw anything suspicious, though.”

Twasta said the pharmacy had been in business at the location for about five months, during which time she frequently waved at pharmacy employees and owners in passing, but said she didn’t know them personally.

Michael Flanagan, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA in Las Vegas, said the search warrant was issued “without incident” and the pharmacy staff was cooperating. He said authorities were searching for any and all paper documents and electronic records, but he declined to provide any details.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: This story has been changed to remove a reference linking Applied Pharmacy Services to a sports drug scandal. The Sun regrets the error. | (August 12, 2009)

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