Washington DC: US authorities have arrested eight Indian-Americans for their alleged involvement in the distribution of millions of opioid pills smuggled into the country from India, as per the US Justice Department.

The defendants lived in New York City or its suburbs and operated out of a warehouse in Queens where they repackaged the pills and mailed them to customers throughout the US, Sputnik quoted the Justice Department as saying. "The defendants participated in a black market for prescription medications by distributing millions of opioid pills in tens of thousands of transactions in one year alone", Federal prosecutor Richard Donoghue said.

An investigation has been initiated in the USA to find those who allegedly sent the drugs from India.

Law enforcement agencies became suspicious in January 2018 about the large-scale importation of misbranded controlled substances, including Tramadol, into the US from India.

The epidemic of opioids has become a national crisis, with 47,600 deaths from overdoses in 2017 alone. The situation has been worsening every year, in the wake of which six US states have now declared public health emergencies to combat the crisis.

"The importation of mislabelled drugs is both dangerous and illegal. It contributes to the ongoing opioid crisis in our nation and causes harm to our communities," said FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Todd Wickerham.