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THREE INDICTED ON DRUG CHARGES RELATED TO THEFT OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AT BENTON PHARMACY

August 7, 2013

Little Rock - Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, William J. Bryant, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Little Rock District Office (DEA), and Kirk R. Lane, Chief of Police for the Benton Police Department (BPD), announced that a two-count Indictment was issued today charging William Franklin Thompson, age 34, of Traskwood; James Jubilee Owens, age 38, of Bismarck; and Joseph Louis Thurlow, age 23, of Hot Springs with drug crimes related to the theft of more than 25,000 pills from a Benton pharmacy in January 2013.

Count 1 charges Thompson, Owens, and Thurlow with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute Schedule II controlled substances, including Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Morphine, Hydromorphone, Meperidine, Methadone, Methylphenadate, Dextroamphetamine, Tapentadol, and Lisdexamphetamine dimesylate. Count 2 charges the same men with aiding and abetting one another to possess Oxycodone with intent to distribute.

"Although they may have initially thought they were able to pull off this theft, due to quick action by the Benton Police Department this robbery was ultimately unsuccessful," said Thyer. "These men will now be facing up to twenty years in prison."

Bryant stated, "Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing illicit drug problem our state faces. It plagues our streets with violence and touches every level of society. The Benton Police Department did an excellent job investigating this case, and we appreciate our partnership with them so that we can continue to address the prescription drug problem on a federal level."

Chief Lane added, "This case was resolved by great investigative work and law enforcement partnerships that in turn, will keep our citizens safe. We are proud to be a part of the team."

The charges result from a burglary on January 30, 2013 at the Westside Pharmacy in Benton, Arkansas which was investigated by the BPD. According to BPD reports, Thurlow gained entry to the pharmacy through an adjacent business which shared ceiling space with the pharmacy. After getting inside the business, Thurlow gained access to the pharmacy above the ceiling and by breaking a hole in the sheet rock firewall separating the two businesses. He then maneuvered above the drop ceiling along the roof rafters until coming upon the Schedule II closet in the pharmacy. A motion detector linked to the pharmacy's alarm system was disabled by Thurlow with assistance via walkie-talkie from Owens. Thurlow then climbed into the closet from the ceiling undetected. More than 25,000 pills were placed into a large duffle bag, and Thurlow climbed back through the ceiling with the pills and returned to the point of entry through the adjacent business. Both Owens and Thompson were stationed in separate vehicles outside the pharmacy with walkie-talkies.

According to BPD reports, after the burglary, the drugs were taken to a Hot Springs home where they were repackaged for distribution by the defendants. The pills were then relocated to Owens' residence in Bismarck where they were stored, and were later seized by Benton Police detectives. Detectives also discovered burned debris in a firepit behind Owens' residence consistent with the original packaging for the drugs.

Both counts of the Indictment carry punishment of not more than 20 years imprisonment with a possible fine of up to $1,000,000, and at least 3 years of supervised release.

Thompson, Owens, and Thurlow are currently not in custody. They will be summoned to appear in federal court before a United States Magistrate Judge later this month.

The investigation was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration Little Rock Office and the Benton Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tricia Harris and Jamie Dempsey.

An indictment contains only allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Christopher R. Thyer

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