Texas group arrested for over $1.5 million narcotics theft from pharmacies in Arkansas


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Houston, Texas – 18 individuals from Texas were arrested on November 28, 2023, for their alleged involvement in stealing more than $1.5 million worth of narcotics from pharmacies across Arkansas. This major indictment, returned in the Eastern District of Arkansas, marks a significant crackdown on drug trafficking and pharmacy burglary.

The indictment includes charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Schedule II through V controlled substances, pharmacy burglary, conspiracy to commit pharmacy burglary, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Seven of the defendants appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Patricia S. Harris this past Tuesday, while the remaining are scheduled to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Edie R. Ervin in Little Rock on January 16, 2024.

Keith Brown, 34, of Houston, Texas, is among the 17 others named in this indictment, which is a part of “Operation #Richoffmeds.” The Drug Enforcement Administration Little Rock District Office (DEA LRDO) identified over 20 pharmacy burglaries and thefts of pharmaceutical narcotics in Arkansas from February 2022 to November 2023. The suspects used similar methods of entry, tools, matching clothing, and unique footwear in each of these burglaries.

The stolen pharmaceuticals included oxycodone, hydrocodone, alprazolam, and promethazine with codeine cough syrup, which were then transported to Houston, Texas, for illicit sale. The DEA LRDO and the Houston Police Department Northeast Division Crime Suppression Team’s intelligence identified the drug trafficking organization as being composed of documented local gang members from the 5th Ward area in Houston, Texas.

This case bears resemblance to a previous case indicted in 2016 in the Eastern District of Arkansas, where 24 members of the Houston 5th Ward gang, ‘The Trill Fam’, were prosecuted for multi-state pharmacy burglaries and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

During the investigation, over 96,000 tablets of Schedule II-controlled substances were stolen, with a street value of nearly $1.6 million. Investigators also seized six firearms, about $79,000 in U.S. currency, and custom jewelry valued at approximately $330,000.

Jonathan D. Ross, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, stated, “These defendants broke into pharmacies across Arkansas to steal narcotics that they then peddled on the streets. This case exemplifies the hard work put in by federal, state, and local agencies working together to infiltrate and dismantle violent gangs whose main mission is for profit and the destruction of communities. Our office is committed to prosecuting these defendants, and others like them, to the fullest extent of the law.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley added, “As alleged, these defendants went to extreme lengths to steal prescription drugs from a multitude of victim pharmacies. The criminal enterprise sought to profit off the people of Arkansas by diverting nearly 100,000 dosages away from those with legitimate medical needs. These defendants were likely driven by money, but the cost to public health and safety is priceless. DEA is committed to investigating the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals and ensuring all Americans can access needed medications.”

The defendants arrested include Brown, Antoinen Hampton, Donald Spencer, Marcus Hargrove, Reginald Jackson, Vernon Baloney, Jr., Edwin Burks, Nicklaus Franklin, Louis Johnson, III, Nathan Kibble, Joshua Delaney, Fernando Riascos, Jr., Alexis Garner, Daron Livingston, Jaiden Fowler, Joshua Griffin, Cierra Jackson, and Jasmane Lincoln, all from the greater Houston, Texas area. They face a maximum sentence of not more than 20 years in federal prison.

The case, prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anne Gardner, highlights the collaborative efforts of federal, state, and local agencies in combating drug trafficking and protecting communities from the illicit drug trade’s harmful effects.


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