DETROIT (FOX 2) - The FBI conducted raids in Metro Detroit Wednesday at different locations including the Book Cadillac Weston hotel.
Four people were arrested and charged with orchestrating a nearly $800,000 illegal opioid distribution conspiracy.
Charged in the indictment are: Dangelo Terrell Stephens, 38, of Detroit; Latasha Maria Neely, 38, of Detroit; Hassan Samir Saad, 33, of Dearborn; and Ali Hussein Keblawi, 26, of Dearborn.
The indictment alleges that from June 2020 through July 2021, Stephens and Neely worked as patient recruiters/marketers, who would bring "patients" or patient information to area doctors and clinics.
Those doctors and clinics, which include the owner, operators, and physician at Tranquility Wellness Center, who have been indicted in a companion case, would write or cause the writing of controlled substance prescriptions in the "patient" names, without medical necessity and outside the scope of professional medical practice, in exchange for cash payments.
Allegedly Stephens and Neely needed the cooperation of area pharmacies, including their owners and employees. Saad was a licensed pharmacy technician who worked at and owned Heritage Medical Pharmacy, LLC, in Redford, Michigan. Keblawi was an employee at Heritage.
In exchange for cash, Saad and Keblawi allegedly filled the unlawful prescriptions obtained by Stephens and dispensed, or caused the dispensing, of controlled substances to Stephens, and not to the patients to which they were prescribed. And Saad and Keblawi knew that the prescriptions were illegitimate, and, by dispensing the controlled substances, they failed to exercise their corresponding professional responsibility to determine that the prescriptions were issued for a legitimate medical purpose.
Stephens and Neely then sold the controlled substances on the street. The primary prescription drug-controlled substances illegally prescribed, filled at pharmacies, and distributed included Schedule II controlled substances Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, and Oxycodone-Acetaminophen (Percocet).
These drugs were in high demand on the illegal street market, particularly Oxycodone 30mg and Oxymorphone 40mg.
Stephens is also charged with three counts of distributing Oxycodone pills, and Stephens, Saad, and Keblawi are charged with one count of distributing and aiding and abetting the distribution of Oxycodone pills. According to the indictment, Stephens and Neely unlawfully distributed a combined total of more than 28,000 dosage units of Schedule II opioid prescriptions during the conspiracy. These controlled substances had a conservative street value more than $775,000.
Also, during the conspiracy, Saad and Keblawi allegedly dispensed a combined total of more than 5,500 dosage units of Schedule II controlled substances, carrying a conservative estimated wholesale street value of more than $150,000.
While most of the unlawful controlled substance prescriptions were paid for in cash, both controlled and non-controlled "maintenance" medications were billed to health care benefit programs by pharmacies. Billings to the Medicare and Medicaid programs for medically unnecessary prescription drug medications and maintenance medications during this conspiracy exceeded $200,000
"The road to addiction often begins with prescription drugs, "said Acting US Attorney Mohsin. "It is for this reason we are focusing our efforts on removing individuals who contribute to the devastating opioid crisis in this country."
"The FBI is focused on stemming the supply of illegal opioids into our communities, especially those illegally distributed by doctors and clinics," said Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Division.