For the first time in history a criminal case in the U.S. was dropped because there is too much evidence.
A case against a fugitive doctor accused of running the nation's largest Internet pharmacy is failing, partly because there is so much evidence in the case, more than 400,000 documents and two terabytes of electronic data that federal authorities say is too expensive to maintain.
Armando Angulo was indicted in 2007 involving the sale of prescription drugs to patients who were not even examined or interviewed by a physician. A federal judge dismissed the charge in Iowa, at the request of prosecutors, who want to delete the many records collected during their nine years of investigation to free up more space.
The Miami Florida physician fled to his native Panama after coming under investigation in 2004, and Panamanian officials say they do not extradite their own citizens. Given the unlikelihood of catching Angulo and inconvenience of keeping so much evidence, prosecutors gave up on the case.
"The continued storage of these materials is difficult and costly," wrote Stephanie Rose, U.S. Attorney in northern Texas. She called the case "an economic and difficult hardship" for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Police know Angulo whereabouts in Panama, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S. to return fugitives.
However, a spokesman for the Embassy of Panama in Washington said the country never received a formal extradition request for Angulo and that the Constitution bars the extradition of Panamanians. The dismissal of the charges does not mean Angulo is free to return to the United States.
He is still listed as one of Florida's most wanted criminals and is charged with Medicaid fraud and drug charges in that state.