News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2007
Contact: S/A Rhett Fonseca
Number: (206) 553-1251

Principal Pharmacy Burglar and Drug Distributor Plead Guilty

DEC 13 -- (Seattle, WA) - DEA Special Agent in Charge Arnold R. Moorin and United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington, Jeff Sullivan, announced that Joshua A. James, 29, of Lake Stevens Washington, pleaded guilty, in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Conspiracy to Burglarize Pharmacies, Pharmacy Burglary, Distribution of Oxycodone, and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. James is the thirteenth pharmacy burglar to be sentenced in connection with a multi-state pharmacy burglary ring that was based in Snohomish County. James has agreed to pay restitution to the pharmacies and other business for the drugs and goods that he stole, and for the damage to the buildings. James faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced on March 21, 2008.

James acknowledged that he was a principal burglar in a ring targeted by law enforcement in “Operation Midnight Sweep.” The ring was based in Marysville, Washington, burgled pharmacies in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California using the same modem of operandi each time. The telephone lines leading to the pharmacy were cut prior to entry in order to disable the pharmacy’s remote alarm. The men then forced their way into the pharmacy and located and stole Schedule II and Schedule III prescription drugs, including powerful addictive narcotics, including oxycodone, morphine, and amphetamines. The drugs were thereafter sold to others and distributed in the State of Washington for a large profit. James participated in at least eight burglaries: January 2004, Kusler’s Pharmacy in Snohomish, Washington; March 2004, White Cross Pharmacy, in Sand Point, Idaho; December, 2004 Lim’s Pharmacy, in Redding, California; January 2005, Central Drugs in Medford, Oregon; October 2005, Rite-Aid, in Monroe, Washington; January 2006, Rite-Aid, in Davis, California; April 2006, Rite-Aid, in Pendleton, Oregon; July 2006, Rite-aid, in Stanwood, Washington.

In addition to the pharmacy burglaries, James admits in his plea agreement that he also burglarized the Game Stop store in Lynnwood, Washington, on November 21, 2005. As part of his plea he agrees to forfeit to the government many of the things he purchased with the drug proceeds including flat screen TVs, cameras, laptop computers, cars and guns. James was barred from possessing guns due to a 1999 felony conviction in Snohomish County for Cocaine Possession.

Robert L. Calkins, 25, of Marysville, Washington, a co-conspirator with James in the burglary and drug distribution ring pleaded guilty yesterday to Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute. On October 27, 2005, Calkins was arrested in Mukilteo, Washington, with more than 4,000 dosage units of pharmaceutical controlled substances in his backpack that had been stolen in one of the pharmacy burglaries. Calkins was a distributor for the burglary ring and he also faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced on February 15, 2008.

Prior to the prosecution of this ring, pharmacy burglaries had skyrocketed in Washington and the Pacific Northwest. In 2002, there were only three night break-in burglaries in Washington pharmacies. In 2005, by contrast, there were 48 night pharmacy burglaries + the most in the nation. In 2006, there was an average of 13 pharmacy burglaries every 3 months in Washington State. By contrast between August and November of 2007, there were just 4 pharmacy burglaries. And in the month of November 2007, there were no pharmacy burglaries.

In addition to the 13 burglars, during the course of the investigation 10 drug distributors have been charged, 25 guns have been seized by law enforcement, more than 47,000 pills have been confiscated, and more than $235,000 in assets have been forfeited to the government.

This investigation was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation with the assistance of Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA), and multiple state agencies.