Nine Indicted in Counterfeit Promethazine-Codeine Drug Trafficking Conspiracy
BEAUMONT, Texas – A federal grand jury in Beaumont has returned a three-count indictment charging nine individuals in drug trafficking conspiracy in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Daniel C. Comeaux, Houston Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei today.
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 arrested this week.
The following individuals 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; and
- Gina Acosta, 40, of Fresno.
According to the indictment, from April 2014 until August 2021, 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.
“Food and drug products, particularly pharmaceuticals, undergo rigorous testing and inspection by federal authorities to ensure their safety,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “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.”
“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.”
“Selling illegal prescription drugs in the U.S. marketplace puts all consumers’ health at risk,” said Special Agent in Charge Charles L. Grinstead, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Kansas City Field Office. “We will continue to pursue and bring to justice those who jeopardize the public’s health.”
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.
A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.