Some criminals use the proceeds from Medicare fraud to finance other criminal operations, a witness testified today at a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Lewis Morris, chief counsel of the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, appeared to talk about strategies for reducing fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare.

The hearing was convened by the House Ways and Means Committee’s health subcommittee and oversight subcommittee.

“The Medicare program is increasingly infiltrated by violent criminals, and our investigations are also finding an increase in sophisticated and organized criminal networks,” Lewis testified, according to a written version of his testimony posted on the Ways and Means website.

In 2008, six men in Los Angeles were charged with running an organized crime ring that stole about $2 million from federal and private insurers, Lewis said.

“These criminals stole money from Medicare and other insurers by stealing the identities of legitimate providers and then funneled these funds into other criminal enterprises, including illegal drug rings,” Lewis said.

When the men accused of the crimes were arrested, investigators found handguns, bullet-proof vests, assault rifles and submachine guns.