44 arrested in massive Georgia opioid bust

Joe Burton, medical examiner for Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Clayton, Douglas, Paulding and Rockdale counties during the 1980s and 1990s, testifies during a trial in 1997. (AJC file image)

Joe Burton, medical examiner for Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Clayton, Douglas, Paulding and Rockdale counties during the 1980s and 1990s, testifies during a trial in 1997. (AJC file image)

Forty-four people were arrested Thursday as part of a huge metro Atlanta opioid ring led by a nationally-known pathologist who authorities say traded prescription drugs for sex.

Dr. Joe Burton was originally charged last year. The additional charges were announced at a news conference Thursday by U.S. Attorney BJay Pak in Atlanta.

Burton once served as medical examiner for Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Clayton, Douglas, Paulding and Rockdale counties. He worked on some of the region's biggest cases conducting what he once estimated were more than 10,000 autopsies.