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Wednesday, April 1, 1998
Prosecutors announce indictments in Mexican
prescription drug ring
By MARK BABINECK / Associated Press Writer
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -- A multistate ring for distributing Mexican
prescription drugs across the country was targeted Tuesday in
federal charges unsealed against 23 people.
Prosecutors said the 15-count indictment resulted from the
largest investigation of its kind.
U.S. Attorney Paul E. Coggins said the ring has been responsible
since 1993 for the entry of "hundreds of thousands"
of packages of anabolic steroids, Valium, Ritalin and Rohypnol,
also known as the "date rape" drug because it's been
used to render unsuspecting victims unconscious and vulnerable
"Rape drugs are a national concern," Attorney General
Janet Reno said in a statement. "The partnership on display
today demonstrates exactly the type of response that is needed."
Six searches in Texas and two more in Utah were conducted Tuesday
in connection with the March 25 indictments. Coggins said 14 of
the defendants were in custody Tuesday afternoon, including the
alleged kingpin distributor, John Drayton Kingston.
According to the indictment, the drugs emanated from the Juarez,
Mexico, pharmacy of Juan Arturo Yu Jr., a U.S. citizen living
in nearby El Paso, Texas. Prosecutors contend Yu imported the
drugs into the United States, where Kingston and other handled
Yu remained at large Tuesday. Kingston was in custody in Midland
awaiting an initial court appearance Wednesday.
Authorities charge that Kingston and other conspirators forwarded
the drugs to dealers in Utah, Florida, Texas and Arizona.
All 23 defendants face conspiracy charges. Kingston and Yu,
known in his circles as the "Doctor," also are charged
with intentionally engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise.
Indicted with Kingston and Yu in one or more of the 13 money
laundering charges were Wanda Jean Adkins of Midland, Lance Allen
Batchelor of Ogden, Utah; Maria Guadalupe Lopez Yu, Rosalia Valdez
Yu and Gabriela Lopez of El Paso; Margaret Shumate Kingston of
Abilene; Jennifer Dee Calhoun of Midland; Walter Gene Bedford
of Austin; and Ruben Roach and Edward Kelvin Johnson of Tampa,
"Kingston would have an order he would want placed, and
he'd get that from Yu," said Jackie Collins, a branch chief
for the IRS' investigation division. "In turn (Kingston)
would ship the money by UPS, mail, wire or whatever. That in itself
is money laundering."
Batchelor and Alycia Huggins, also named in the Texas indictment,
face federal charges in Utah for intent to distribute Ritalin.
In a separate Utah indictment, Ryan Williams and Candice Murdock
of Layton, Utah, and Eric Lichter of Ohio were charged with distributing
Rohypnol. All those named in the Utah counts were in custody Tuesday.
Drug Enforcement Agency resident agent-in-charge Joe Solpietro
said an exact inventory of drugs seized in Tuesday's raids wouldn't
be known until later. He added that it will take some time before
field agents can determine what dent the bust might make on street
While Ritalin, Valium and steroids are available by prescription
in the United States, Rohypnol is always illegal, Coggins said.
"Date rape pills are a plague in this country," said
Coggins, who added that any prescription drug becomes illegal
if improperly used. "(Rohypnol has) no approved medical use
Based on the number of states involved, the cooperation of
numerous local, state and federal authorities and the number of
indictments, Coggins said it is the nation's biggest case to date
regarding the illegal importation of pharmaceuticals from Mexico.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Pierce said more indictments
are possible after the current list of suspects is rounded up.
Defendants in the Texas indictments will be transported to Lubbock
to await trial.
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