AK: Pharmacy Burglary Conspirators Arraigned Tuesday in Federal Court

More than $1.5 million worth of stolen pharmaceuticals involved.

Eighteen individuals from Texas who are accused of stealing more than $1.5 million worth of narcotics from numerous pharmacies in Arkansas were arrested in Houston on November 28, 2023, following an indictment returned in the Eastern District of Arkansas. Seven defendants appeared on charges Tuesday before United States Magistrate Judge Patricia S. Harris, and the remaining defendants are set to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Edie R. Ervin in Little Rock on January 16, 2024. 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.  Keith Brown, 34, of Houston, Texas, and 17 others were named in this indictment related to “Operation #Richoffmeds.”

From February 2022 to November 2023, the Drug Enforcement Administration Little Rock District Office (DEA LRDO) identified more than 20 pharmacy burglaries and thefts of pharmaceutical narcotics in Arkansas. In each of the burglaries, the suspects used similar methods of entry and tools, as well as matching clothing and unique footwear. The stolen pharmaceuticals—including oxycodone, hydrocodone, alprazolam, and promethazine with codeine cough syrup—were transported to Houston, Texas, where they were sold illicitly.

Intelligence developed by the DEA LRDO and the Houston Police Department Northeast Division Crime Suppression Team identified the drug trafficking organization as being comprised of documented local gang members from the 5th Ward area in Houston, Texas. The current case is similar in kind and scope to a previous case indicted in the Eastern District of Arkansas in 2016, in which 24 members of a local Houston 5th Ward gang, ‘The Trill Fam’, were prosecuted for multi-state pharmacy burglaries and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. During the present investigation, over 96,000 tablets of Schedule II controlled substances were stolen. The street value of all controlled substances stolen by the organization in the Arkansas burglaries is valued at close to $1.6 million. Investigators also seized six firearms, approximately $79,000 in U.S. currency, and custom jewelry retailing approximately $330,000.

“As alleged, these defendants went to extreme lengths to steal prescription drugs from a multitude of victim pharmacies,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brad L. Byerley. “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.”

“These defendants broke into pharmacies across Arkansas to steal narcotics that they then peddled on the streets,” stated Jonathan D. Ross, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. “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.”

The defendants arrested include Brown, Antoinen Hampton, 37, Donald Spencer, 34, Marcus Hargrove, 31, Reginald Jackson, 32, Vernon Baloney, Jr., 33, Edwin Burks, 50, Nicklaus Franklin, 31, Louis Johnson, III, 24, Nathan Kibble, 40, Joshua Delaney, 43, Fernando Riascos, Jr., 36, Alexis Garner, 31, Daron Livingston, 32, Jaiden Fowler, 23, Joshua Griffin, 21, Cierra Jackson, 30, and Jasmane Lincoln, 34, all from the greater Houston, Texas area.

The maximum sentence for the drug charges is not more than 20 years in federal prison.

Investigators with the DEA LRDO worked in conjunction with the following law enforcement partners:

DEA New Orleans Division (Little Rock District Office, Fayetteville Resident Office, Shreveport Resident Office, Mobile Resident Office),

DEA Special Operations Division,

DEA Houston Division (Houston TDS Group, Galveston Resident Office),

DEA Omaha Division,

DEA Rocky Mountain Division (Salt Lake City District Office, Cheyenne Resident Office),

DEA Atlanta Division (Columbia District Office),

DEA Miami Division (Pensacola District Office),

FBI Little Rock Field Office,

FBI Cast Team,

U.S. Marshals Service,

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics,

Harris County Sheriff’s Office,

League City Police Department (Dickinson, TX),

Houston Police Department Northeast Division Crime Suppression Team,

Houston Police Department CID, and

Arkansas State Police.

The case is being prosecuted in the Eastern District of Arkansas by Assistant United States Attorney Anne Gardner.

This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

An indictment contains only allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Press Release


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