Five Alleged ‘Pill Mills’ Found Illegally Dispensing Millions of Opioid Pills

Five Alleged ‘Pill Mills’ Found Illegally Dispensing Millions of Opioid Pills
Assortment of prescription pills and containers. | Image by Darwin Brandis

The Department of Justice announced at the end of December 2021, that five individuals, including one doctor, one pharmacy technician, and three pharmacists, were arrested for allegedly running “pill mills” in the Houston area.

Peoples Pharmacy, Keystone Pharmacy, and Chrisco Pharmacy, along with two pain-clinics, were discovered to be running opioid operations. The Department of Justice has not named the clinics, but one was located in Houston and the other in Pasadena, Calif.

These facilities were allegedly distributing oxycodone, hydrocodone, and a muscle relaxer called carisoprodol without a permissible medical reason. In all, totals estimate around four million pills had been dispersed since January 2018.

Anthony Obute, 46, is the owner of Keystone and is accused of being the lead pharmacist who allegedly dispensed oxycodone, hydrocodone, and carisoprodol in what authorities call “pill mills.”

For around two years, Keystone ordered around 1.1 million pills of the highest strength. When the drugs arrived, “crew leaders,” drug traffickers that pay people to act as patients, would purchase them, according to the DEA. The opioids then go to the black market.

Ophelia Emeakoroha, 50, is the lead pharmacist at Peoples. For around eleven months, her pharmacy allegedly obtained 250,000 opioids, selling them to “crew leaders” in the same manner as Obute.

Shivarajpur Ravi, M.D., 65, owned two pain clinics. Undercover officers were able to easily acquire large quantities of opioids within a two-minute appointment with no legitimate reason for a prescription. This happened at both of Ravi’s clinics, according to the Department of Justice.

According to KHOU 11 News, authorities allegedly witnessed “crew leaders” in action, paying people to act as patients, completing their paperwork, and coaching them on how to fake an appointment while being seen by a doctor.

Eric Tubbe, 36-year-old pharmacy technician, and Christopher Obaze, 61-year-old lead pharmacist run the Chrisco Pharmacy. They allegedly used the facility as a cover-up, obtaining around 2.25 million opioid pills and selling them to the drug traffickers themselves with no patients, prescriptions, or doctors involved.

Distributing these types of opioids, as these five individuals allegedly did, can result in a sentence of twenty years in prison. The FBI, DEA, Houston Police Department, postal service, and banks are working together to conduct investigations into all the cases.

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