Two defendants arrested for distribution of controlled substances through sham internet pharmacy
NEW YORK – Valerie A. Nickerson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Judy Ramos, the Acting Inspector in Charge of the New Jersey Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), announced today that Evelin Bracy and Jorge Rodriguez-Lopez were arrested and charged in Manhattan federal court with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, and more than 40 grams of the fentanyl analogue U-47700, distribution of controlled substances over the Internet, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in connection with a large-scale drug distribution operation purporting to be an online pharmacy.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said, “As alleged, Evelin Bracy and Jorge Rodriguez Lopez distributed controlled substances to individuals throughout the United States as part of a drug trafficking organization that sold pharmaceuticals through a website purporting to be an online pharmacy. Bracy and Rodriguez-Lopez allegedly conspired to distribute oxycodone, hydrocodone, and a fentanyl analogue, and laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in narcotics trafficking proceeds. Thanks to the outstanding investigative work of the DEA and USPIS, these two defendants are now facing prosecution.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Valerie Nickerson said, “The two individuals arrested allegedly have been distributing powerful narcotics not just in New Jersey, but across the United States, based on orders place through a supposed online pharmacy. This very profitable, alleged illegal endeavor has come to an end thanks to the hard work of the men and women of the DEA and the USPIS. Whether on a street corner or in cyberspace, we will continue to pursue those pushing these drugs in our communities.”
USPIS Acting Inspector in Charge Judy Ramos said, “Postal Inspectors, federal prosecutors and our law enforcement partners have diligently worked to identify and disrupt the activities of an online pharmacy suspected of peddling illegal pills and money laundering. Postal Inspectors will continue to tirelessly investigate these types of crimes that utilize the U.S. Postal Service to facilitate illicit transactions.”
Law enforcement agents began investigating an online pharmacy website (the “Pharmacy Website”) following an overdose death of a victim in Boise, Idaho, on or about March 17, 2017, whose death was caused by elevated levels of multiple prescription opioids as well as fentanyl. The victim’s computer showed that he had repeatedly ordered painkillers from the Pharmacy Website, and that he had wired thousands of dollars to a bank account in connection with these purchases. Law enforcement subsequently discovered that this bank account was being used by Bracy and Rodriguez-Lopez. Bank accounts show that Bracy had received over $750,000 in apparent narcotics proceeds, and that Bracy and Rodriguez-Lopez have withdrawn hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from these accounts, and have also used these bank accounts to pay for costs associated with the drug distribution operation, including the costs of shipping controlled substances.
In the course of the investigation, undercover law enforcement agents conducted multiple purchases of controlled substances from the Pharmacy Website, and received instructions to send payment for these drugs to Bracy and Rodriguez-Lopez. The substances purchased by undercover law enforcement agents included substances that tested positive for oxycodone and hydrocodone.
The investigation has revealed that in some cases customers purchased what they believed to be prescription drugs such as alprazolam or oxycodone from the Pharmacy Website, but instead received pills containing other substances. In the course of the investigation, law enforcement agents seized a package that had been sent to Rodriguez-Lopez, and recovered over 200 pills weighing over 40 grams. These pills tested positive for U-47700, which is a fentanyl analogue listed on Schedule I.
Bracy 34, and Rodriguez-Lopez , 32, who both reside in New Brunswick, New Jersey, have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances including at least 40 grams of the fentanyl analogue U-47700, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, one count of distribution of controlled substances over the Internet, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Berman praised the investigative work of the Tactical Diversion Squad of the DEA New Jersey Division and USPIS in this investigation.