WASHINGTON -- It's being hailed as the largest ever crackdown on health care fraud and opioid abuse by the Department of Justice.

  • 601 charged so far in health care fraud crackdown
  • Nearly 200 accused of playing a role in opioid epidemic
  • Justice Dept.: Over $2 billion in false billings submitted

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement on Thursday, calling it "historic," but also saying "we're just getting started."

According to the Justice Department, 601 people are being charged in this takedown.

Those charged included 165 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professions.

Sessions specifically pointed out that nearly 200 of them are accused of playing a role in the nation's opioid epidemic.

Standing alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Sessions and other officials made the announcement Thursday morning.

Over 1,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers have been involved in the takedown.

It targets medical professionals across the country for things like billing health care customers for treatments they didn't need or never received, or illegally prescribing opioids.

According to the Justice Department, over $2 billion in false billings were submitted by those charged.

"Some of our most trusted medical professionals look at their patients -- vulnerable people suffering from addiction -- and they see dollar signs," Sessions said. "That is a fact. It's painful, but true. And some of these cases prove it, without doubt."

One doctor charged is accused of distributing more than 2 million unnecessary doses of drugs like Fentanyl, Sessions said.

"These kind of scams undercut the confidence and trust of the American people in federal health care programs," Azar said. "The perpetrators really are despicable and greedy people."

Sessions said, in addition to this takedown, a new "Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit" has also been started to continue monitoring who is abusing the system.

The full press release has a list that breaks down the suspects by Justice Dept. district and accusations. It includes 125 defendants in South Florida, 21 in Central Florida, 48 in the southern Texas district, 13 in the east district of New York, and more. See the full report on the Department of Justice website.   ​