The Drug Enforcement Administration West Palm Beach District Office and the Florida Attorney General's Office of Statewide Prosecution announced the arrests of six medical professionals on May 23.
In addition to the arrests, $300,000 in luxury cars was seized as the result of an investigation of the James Drug Trafficking Organization, allegedly headed and operated by Lancelot Fitzgerald James. DEA agents said the organization was made up of physicians, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.
Charges include racketeering, money laundering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.
Evidence gathered by the DEA between 2012 through 2014 shows the James DTO distributed over two million phentermine pills through James DTO controlled pharmacies which ordered phentermine, a schedule IV controlled substance, from various distributors.
The organization then allegedly shipped the pills to patients throughout the United States using UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service.
According to the DEA, the DTO's physicians reviewed medical questionnaires submitted by patients on the Internet, which the doctors used to determine and approve patient prescriptions. A few patients were screened using a "virtual examination" conducted on the Internet. For the most part, physical examinations were never conducted, yet, patients still received large quantities of highly addictive controlled substances, DEA agents said.
The investigation also revealed there were prescriptions written and filled in the names of deceased patients and a child.
Patient payments using money orders, checks and credit card transactions from the illegal sales were deposited into bank accounts controlled by James and other DTO members. Agents said more than $5 million in drug proceeds were laundered through over 28 bank accounts controlled by the James DTO.
James and his wife, Sherri-Ann Thelwell-James, allegedly spent millions of dollars on real estate, luxury automobiles, lavish vacations and personal purchases.
The DEA West Palm Beach DO received assistance with this investigation from its law enforcement partners: The Florida Department of Health/Bureau of Enforcement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration/Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Broward Sheriff's Office.
The investigation is ongoing. The DEA said additional arrests and asset seizures are anticipated.
The following suspects were arrested in the case:
- Lancelot Fitzgerald James (DTO Head and Pharmacy Technician) of Parkland
- Sherrie-Ann Nathlie Thelwell-James (Wife and Business Associate) of Parkland
- Dr. Jean Mario Pierre (Physician) of Hollywood
- Adesumbo Adesioye (Pharmacist) of Sunrise
- Doretha Thompson Robinson (Pharmacist) of Fort Lauderdale
- Claude Edward White (Pharmacy Technician and Owner of Tropical Pharmacy) of Pembroke Pines