Federal agents swept across Puerto Rico early Thursday with arrest warrants for at least 88 doctors they say obtained their credentials through fraud, officials said.
Television stations broadcast images of some of the arrests by Food and Drug Administration agents and local police - including that of Pablo Valentin, executive director of the island's medical licensing board.
The arrests are related to an investigation by the Puerto Rico legislature into allegations that the licensing board altered the results of low-scoring tests and awarded licenses to candidates who did not qualify, said an official who spoke on condition he not be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
But the 88 arrest warrants were confirmed by Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Waldo Santiago, who said his agency is investigating whether those charged had prescribed medications. If so, they could face felony charges including violations to the controlled substance act, he said.
Licensing board officials earlier said that the U.S. Attorney's Office was investigating around 120 doctors for alleged fraud.
Florida, Arizona and New York accept medical licenses from Puerto Rico, according to Puerto Rico's medical examining board, though there have been no reports of those accused in the case practicing outside the island.