WEB: Pinehurst Men Face Federal Charges Related to Internet Drug Sales
Two Pinehurst men are among 11 individuals facing myriad charges related to the selling of prescription drugs over the Internet.
David Dalton Johnson, 37, and David Allen Brady, 40, were arrested Sept. 14.
They are accused of selling unregulated drugs manufactured in Belize and marketed through "spam" e-mails as low-price Canadian drugs.
The Department of Justice also named an Atlanta-based company in the indictments, alleging that it sold generic versions of prescription steroids, drugs such as Valium and Xanax, and sexual performance drugs such as Viagra and Cialis.
"The indictment's allegations are disturbing," United States Attorney David E. Nahmias stated in a DOJ press release Sept. 20, "because customers thought they were getting legitimate and safe prescription drugs over the Internet from Canada at cheaper prices, when in reality they received adulterated fakes that were crudely made in an unsanitary house in Belize."
All the defendants stand to lose numerous properties, automobiles and money in several bank accounts. The DOJ is seeking a judgment of no less than $19.8 million.
The lead defendant is Jared Robert Wheat, 34, of Alpharetta, Ga., the owner of Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, the company charged.
Others charged are Stephen Douglas Smith, 38, of Duluth, Ga.; Thomas Holda, 43, of Duluth, Ga.; Sergio Ronaldo Oliveira, 46, of Hoschton, Ga.; Brad Neal Watkins, 38, of Birmingham, Ala.; David Watkins, 40, of Norcross, Ga.; Steven Blinder, 42, of Aberdeen, S.D.; Michelle Young, 38, of Belize; and Guillermo Pech, 28, of Belize.
All the defendants face charges of conspiring to import controlled substances into the United States and conspiring to violate the wire and mail fraud statute and to introduce into interstate commerce adulterated and misbranded prescription drugs.
Pinehurst defendants Johnson and Brady also face other charges such as mail fraud, distribution of controlled substances and introducing adulterated and misbranded new drugs.
Wheat, the owner of Hi-Tech, faces the additional charge of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted the investigation along with help from several other agencies.
According to the DOJ press release, the defendants helped Wheat open a drug manufacturing facility in Belize in 2002. The DOJ states that the defendants are accused of using Hi-Tech funds and Wheat's personal money to cover the costs and would fly to Belize to manufacture the drugs.
They are accused of making 24 different generic versions of drugs, including steroids Oxymethelone and Stanazolol, versions of behavior regulating drugs Ambien, Valium and Xanax, versions of sexual performance enhancing drugs Viagra and Cialis, cholesterol pill Lipitor and the arthritis treatment Vioxx.
The DOJ believes that the defendants ordered enough ingredients to produce millions of pills.
Internet prescription drug fraud has been an area of concentration for the DEA in recent years.
"One of the fastest growing drug abuse concerns is prescription drugs," DEA Special Agent Sherri Strange said. "The selling and purchasing of drugs have been facilitated by the wide use of the Internet, the anonymity it provides and the ease and relative secrecy of the mail and private delivery companies.
"As our children sit down at the family computer to do their schoolwork, research projects and converse with friends, criminal organizations like the one alleged today, slither into their lives. Every one of us has received spam e-mails directing us to visit Web sites to order supposed generic prescription drugs and controlled substances.
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