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News Release
October 2, 2002

For Additional Information:
Joe Kilmer, Special Agent,
Public Information Officer
Office: 305-994-4837
Cellular: 305-345-6085

Jim Shedd, Special Agent
Public Information Officer (Spanish Media Contact)
Office: 305-994-4837
Cellular: 305-796-7344

DEA Arrests 8 in International Ketamine Distribution Ring

photo-KetamineToday the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Miami, together with the U.S. Attorney's Office announce the arrest of eight defendants involved in an international ketamine distribution ring which has been operating in South Florida for the past year. Several local police departments and federal agencies assisted in this investigation:

Miami Beach Police Department
Coral Gables Police Department
City of Miami Police Department
Internal Revenue Service
Broward County Sheriff's Office
United States Secret Service
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

The arrests were made approximately 13 days ago as part of an enforcement action known as Operation Ravemaker. This case is a multi-jurisdictional investigation, which targeted the illegal trafficking of ketamine, a drug commonly associated with the nightclub and rave scene. Ketamine is known by many street names, to include "Special K," and has a hallucinogenic effect on its users.

Eight defendants were taken into custody. They were charged with drug offenses, and are identified as follows:

Thomas Russell LEHMANN, age 31, of Miami Beach, Florida
Paul Vincent BRANDRETH, age 31, of Miami Beach, Florida
Asa William GARCIA, age 31, of Miami, Florida
Thomas Joseph DICICCO, age 28, of Miami Beach, Florida
Gema Mariana VASQUEZ, age 28, of Coral Gables, Florida
Dimitri FRAGOULIAS, age 30, of Miami, Florida
Alexander PARSON, age 20, of Miami, Florida
Gavriel FINBARB, age 29, of Miami Beach, Florida

The investigation was initiated during the Summer of 2001 and revealed an international ketamine smuggling organization operating in Mexico, San Diego, California, South Florida, and the New York and New Jersey areas. The organization was importing thousands of vials of ketamine from Mexico on a frequent basis.

In May 2002, DEA agents received approval for a court authorized intercept on the cellular telephone of Thomas LEHMANN. In June 2002, agents seized 1350 vials of ketamine that had been sent to South Florida from Mexico at the direction of LEHMANN.

As the investigation progressed, it became apparent that in addition to drug trafficking, LEHMANN and his associates were also actively involved in credit card fraud.

On September 18, 2002, agents and detectives executed a federal search warrant at the residence of LEHMANN at 5907 Pine Tree Drive, Miami Beach. Agents subsequently seized eight stolen luxury cars, with the assistance of the Miami Beach Auto Theft Unit. The vehicles were valued at approximately $450,000 as follows:

1999 Jaguar stolen in July 2002 in Miami-Dade County, FL
1999 Chevrolet Corvette stolen in June 2002 from Sunrise, FL
2002 Chevrolet Corvette stolen in August 2002 from Broward County, FL
2002 Cadillac Escalade stolen from Bay Harbour, FL
1999 Range Rover Land Rover
1999 Mercedes Benz stolen in Miami-Dade County, FL
2002 Mercedes Benz stolen from Fort Lauderdale, FL
2000 Mercedes Benz
In addition, agents recovered:

Seven firearms utilized during the commission of drug trafficking crimes, to include two shotguns, 2 AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles, one rifle, and two revolvers, with ammunition, and approximately two dozen credit cards and over three dozen fictitious identification cards produced to match the credit cards. 200 vials of ketamine.

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