AK: Five more people charged in pharmacy burglary ring in Arkansas are arraigned in federal court

Rural pharmacies targeted

Five more people named in an indictment charging 18 Houston-area residents with a string of pharmacy burglaries in Arkansas that began in February 2022 were arraigned on conspiracy and burglary charges in federal court on Tuesday.

Three of the defendants — Vernon Baloney Jr., 33; Joshua Delaney, 43; and Jaiden Fowler, 23 — were released on conditions and allowed to return to Houston. A fourth defendant, Antoinen Hampton, 37, was detained at Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Gardner’s request but reserved his right to a bond hearing at some point in the future. The fifth defendant, Joshua Griffin, 21, was remanded to federal custody until his case is resolved following a bond hearing that was held on the heels of the arraignment hearing.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Tricia Harris said that Griffin’s past conduct — which included several offenses involving violence — and the fact that he was on supervised release at the time he is accused of committing the instant offense, made it unlikely that he would abide by any conditions placed on his release. As Harris announced her ruling, Griffin let out a loud groan and banged his forehead on the defense table before leaning back in his chair and staring at the ceiling of the courtroom, a stricken look on his face.

All five men are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. If convicted, the maximum penalty for that charge is 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and three years to life on supervised release. In addition, Delaney, Fowler and Hampton are charged with possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, which also carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and three years to life on supervised release.

Baloney, Delaney and Hampton were also charged with conspiracy to commit pharmacy burglary, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to three years supervised release. Fowler, Hampton and Griffin were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison or the greater of $500,000 or two times the value of the property involved and up to three years supervised release.

The remaining defendants, Keith Brown, 34; Donald Spencer, 34; Marcus Hargrove, 31; Reginald Jackson, 32; Daron Livingston, 32 and Cierra Jackson, 30; are scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 16 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edi Ervin.

On Dec. 13, seven defendants: Nicklaus Franklin, 31; Louis Johnson III, 24; Nathan Kibble, 40; Fernando Riascos Jr., 36; Alexis Garner, 31; and and Jasmane Lincoln, 34, were arraigned on numerous charges, including conspiracy to commit pharmacy burglary, and were released on conditions and allowed to return to Houston.

Federal authorities with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Little Rock and the Drug Enforcement Administration said the 18 defendants are believed to have targeted rural and independent pharmacies in and around Central Arkansas beginning in February 2022, resulting in well over a million dollars’ worth of pharmaceuticals being stolen and transported to the Houston area to be sold. The defendants are accused of conducting a sophisticated burglary ring that advertised its wealth on social media with the hashtag “RichOff-Meds.”

At a Dec. 13 press conference to announce the arrest and indictment of the 18 defendants, U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ross and other officials said the burglaries were conducted by a coordinated network of gang members from Houston’s 5th Ward that would identify small, independently-owned pharmacies in smaller towns in and around Central Arkansas to burglarize.

According to court records, a grand jury in the Eastern District of Arkansas returned a 15-count indictment against 18 defendants on Nov. 8, all of whom were arrested during a three-day sweep in Houston beginning Nov. 28. The indictment charges conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute Schedule II through V controlled substances, as well as pharmacy burglary, conspiracy to commit pharmacy burglary and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Ross said the defendants are alleged to have targeted at least 20 “mom-and-pop” pharmacies around the state, stealing over 96,000 tablets of Schedule II controlled substances including oxycontin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, alprazolam and promethazine with codeine cough syrup as well as other drugs worth an estimated $1.6 million. The affected pharmacies, Ross said, were in Alma, Atkins, Beebe, Benton, Berryville, Bismark, Bryant, Cabot, El Dorado, Greenwood, Jonesboro, Malvern, Magnolia, Marmaduke, Mount Ida, Russellville, Searcy, Sheridan, Stuttgart and Trumann.

Ross said the defendants were believed to have used the internet to scout out rural pharmacy locations, then traveled to Arkansas from Texas in rental cars where in the early morning hours they would shatter the glass at pharmacy locations and low-crawl on the floor to evade motion detectors and access the drugs from pharmacy shelves. These narcotics, he said, were then returned and distributed on the streets of Houston’s 5th Ward. The indictment charges the defendants in connection with 11 of the pharmacy burglaries, beginning with the Feb. 27, 2022, burglary of Bryant Family Pharmacy in Bryant and concluding with the April 25, 2022, burglary of Health-Way Save-On Drugs Pharmacy in Beebe.

The defendants are currently scheduled to go to trial Jan. 29 before U.S. District Judge Brian Miller, although that date is likely to be continued until sometime in late 2024 to mid-2025.

Article Link


National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators Federal Tax ID: 52-1660752 / DUNS Number: 073539913

Copyright © 2024 - NADDI. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy / Trademark Policy / Copyright Policy / Refund Policy

Log in with your credentials


Forgot your details?

Create Account