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EL CAJON, Calif. — An anesthesiologist who works at an East County pain-control clinic was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of intentionally getting patients hooked on painkillers and requesting sex once they were addicted.

Federal agents took Naga R. Thota, 62, into custody Wednesday morning at his workplace in the 2700 block of Navajo Road in El Cajon, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Thota, who lives in the Lake Murray area, was scheduled to make his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon before a federal magistrate in downtown San Diego, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The criminal complaint against Thota alleged  two young women received opioids without a legitimate medical purpose in exchange for sex acts. A victim said Thota kept increasing her dosage on several occasions and felt that if she did not submit to sexual acts he would not provide her with more prescriptions. The victim eventually started using heroin – a stronger opioid.

“Prescription drug abuse and overdoses have reached alarming levels,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “We are going after doctors who abuse their power to prescribe and exploit the desperation of addicts for their own gratification.”

“Doctors who exploit patients are the worst kind of predators.” said DEA San Diego special agent in charge William Sherman. “DEA recognizes the trust the citizens of San Diego place in their doctors. We will continue to ensure that physicians who are abusing that trust by bartering sex for prescriptions will be arrested and prosecuted.”

Anyone with information regarding this case should contact the DEA at 858-616-4100 and ask for the diversion duty agent.