Nine Arrested for Illegally Distributing 1.5 Million Opioid Pills
Department of Justice Press Release Number: 23-133 - Topic(s): Opioids Prescription Drugs
Nine Texas individuals were arrested this week in Houston on criminal charges related to their alleged involvement in the unlawful distribution of 1.5 million opioid pills and other controlled substances.
According to court documents, Kent Lyons, 52, of Houston; Roquel Turner, 47, of Manvel; and Traunce Alfred, 43, of Baytown, are charged with illegally distributing controlled substances, including oxycodone and hydrocodone. From August 2017 until late 2022, Lyons and Turner allegedly operated pill-mill pharmacies as fronts to obtain opioids in their highest-strength and immediate-release pill form. They then allegedly sold the drugs on the black market – without the involvement of patients, prescriptions, or doctors – to drug traffickers like Alfred. Lyons and Turner allegedly concealed the drug proceeds using numerous bank accounts and real estate transactions. Lyons also allegedly used some of the proceeds to purchase luxury items, including a Rolls Royce, a Ford F-250, and a Mercedes Maybach.
According to court documents, starting around December 2020, Dwain Ross, 52, and Delores Mackey-Ross, 43, both of Pearland, along with licensed pharmacist Ann Nguyen, 30, of Stafford, allegedly used pharmacies to illegally distribute and dispense nearly half a million pills of oxycodone and hydrocodone. Dwain Ross and Mackey-Ross, along with David Ross, 53, of Houston; Kevin Peterson, 56, of Pearland; and Eleanor Marsh, 56, of Fulshear, also allegedly illegally ordered the opioid potentiators alprazolam, carisoprodol, promethazine with codeine – which are reported to enhance the high from opioids – from a pharmaceutical wholesaler and a pharmaceutical sales representative then allegedly illegally distributed the opioid potentiators in bulk. Dwain Ross and Mackey-Ross allegedly used numerous bank accounts and real estate transactions to conceal their ill-gotten gains. Dwain Ross also allegedly used some of the drug proceeds to purchase a Lamborghini.
The pharmacies alleged in the indictments to have been controlled by the defendants’ drug trafficking organizations are K Med Pharmacy, Nex Gen Pharmacy, TX United Pharmacy, Power Center Pharmacy #2, DR Pharmacy, and Nu Care Pharmacy. Several other pharmacies, including P&A Pharmacy and Pearland Holistic Pharmacy, voluntarily surrendered their DEA Registration numbers, which a pharmacy needs to legally purchase pharmaceutical opioids and other controlled substances.
Lyons, Turner, Alfred, Dwain Ross, Mackey-Ross, and Nguyen are each charged with illegal distribution of Schedule II opioids. Dwain Ross, Mackey-Ross, David Ross, Peterson, and Marsh are each charged with the illegal distribution of Schedule IV drugs. Lyons, Turner, Dwain Ross, and Mackey-Ross are also charged with money laundering crimes. If convicted, Lyons, Turner, Alfred, Dwain Ross, Mackey-Ross, and Nguyen face up to 20 years on the top counts. David Ross and Peterson each face up to five years. Marsh faces up to 10 years if convicted. Court documents allege that over 15 bank accounts, four real properties, and several luxury vehicles – including a Rolls Royce, a Bentley, and a Lamborghini – were involved in, or acquired with proceeds from, the scheme, and are subject to forfeiture if the defendants are convicted. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, Special Agent in Charge James H. Smith III of the FBI Houston Field Office, Chief William Marlowe of the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), Acting Special Agent in Charge Scott Pierce of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (USPS-OIG), and Acting Inspector in Charge Dana Carter of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) Houston Division made the announcement.
The DEA, FBI, MFCU, USPS-OIG, and USPIS are investigating the cases.
Trial Attorney Drew Pennebaker of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the cases.
An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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