Crime

Codeine cough syrup drug ring indictment in Beaumont federal court

KFDM’s “DEA: Fighting on the Frontlines” segment this week focused on a drug trafficking conspiracy involving cough syrup. A grand jury in Beaumont handed up the federal indictment.

According to a court document obtained by KFDM 6 News, “Promethazine-codeine has become increasingly popular among recreational drug users in Southeast Texas.”

Court documents reveal that nine people were indicted with conspiracy, trafficking in drugs with a counterfeit mark, and money laundering conspiracy. The indictment has been sealed, but KFDM obtained it after all nine were arrested.

The indictment was returned on Nov. 3, 2021, and charges the defendants with conspiracy, trafficking in drugs with a counterfeit mark, and money laundering conspiracy. The indictment remained sealed until the defendants were indicted and arrested this month:

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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; and

Gina Acosta, 40, of Fresno.

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For seven years, from April 2014 until August 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the defendants conspired to traffic misbranded and counterfeit drugs, specifically promethazine-codeine cough syrup. The indictment alleges the conspiracy resulted in approximately $52,736,000 in drug trafficking proceeds, according to a news release.

According to the indictment, the bottles of counterfeit cough syrup made it across the country, including to Liberty County. KFDM has learned that 120 pints on two occasions in 2017 were sold to a cooperating witness in Beaumont.

“These arrests send a strong and unified message that the illicit sales of misbranded and counterfeit drugs will not be tolerated in our communities and those who commit these offenses will be brought to justice,” said Daniel C. Comeaux, Special Agent in Charge Houston Division. “The DEA and our law enforcement partners will continue to commit significant resources to the identification and investigation of those who are distributing fraudulently labeled drugs in our neighborhoods and communities,” Comeaux said in a statement.

If found guilty, the defendants could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

Written by Aaron Drawhorn

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