Nine people indicted in East Texas federal court as part of $52.7 million drug trafficking conspiracy

Crime & Public Safety

FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, the Department of Justice seal is seen in Washington, D.C. An internet firm is ending the automated registration of website names that include words or phrases related to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an attempt to combat coronavirus-related fraud. Los Angeles-based Namecheap Inc. made the pledge after a federal judge in Texas on Sunday, March 22, 2020, ordered the takedown of a website the U.S. Department of Justice accused of stealing credit card information while offering fake coronavirus vaccine kits. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

BEAUMONT, Texas (KETK) – Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei announced Friday that a federal grand jury in Beaumont returned a three-count indictment charging nine people in drug trafficking conspiracy in the Eastern District of Texas.

The nine were indicted on Nov. 3 for running a counterfeit promethazine-codeine drug trafficking scheme. The defendants have been officially charged with conspiracy, trafficking in drugs with a counterfeit mark, and money laundering conspiracy.

The following people have been indicted and arrested:

  • Tunji Campbell, a/k/a Mike, 43, of Webster
  • Byron A. Marshall, a/k/a Robert Griffin, a/k/a Dr. Griffin, 43, of Houston
  • Cheryl A. Anderson, 43, of League City
  • Ashley A. Rhea, a/k/a Ashley A. Johnson, 35, of Houston
  • Chauntell D. Brown, a/k/a Juan Brown, 49, of Manvel
  • Willis Reed, 60, of Richmond
  • Kalpen D. Patel, 36, of Richmond
  • Jonathan R. Shaver, 35, of Richmond
  • Gina Acosta, 40, of Fresno

According to the indictment, the scheme has been running for more than seven years. From April 2014 to August 2021, the nine defendants conspired to traffic misbranded and counterfeit drugs, specifically promethazine-codeine cough syrup. The indictment alleges that the conspiracy generated approximately $52,736,000 in drug trafficking proceeds.

“Food and drug products, particularly pharmaceuticals, undergo rigorous testing and inspection by federal authorities to ensure their safety. When producers evade those inspection and certification requirements, the innocent consumer could potentially be put at risk. EDTX is committed to ensuring public safety and upholding public trust through the vigorous prosecution of those that skirt these safety requirements.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei

If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison.

This case is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, Houston Police Department, Galveston Police Department, Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, Dickinson Police Department, League City Police Department, Pearland Police Department, Pasadena Police Department, Texas City Police Department, Harris County Precent #2, Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas National Guard.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John B. Ross and Jonathan C. Lee, with assistance from the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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