Monday, August 30, 2010
Department of Justice
Acting United States Attorney Gregg L. Sullivan Eastern District of Tennessee
FLORIDA PILL SUPPLIERS SENTENCED FOR OXYCODONE DISTRIBUTION
KNOXVILLE, Tenn--Three Florida brothers were sentenced on August 26, 2010, to terms in prison ranging from 72 to 180 months, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville, by the Honorable R. Leon Jordan, United States District Judge. The sentences were the result of guilty pleas by each of the brothers in February 2010, to a federal grand jury indictment charging each brother with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Lance Barabas, the leader and organizer of the conspiracies, was sentenced to 180 months for his role. Brothers Larry and Landon were sentenced to 84 months and 72 months, respectively. Co-defendant William Kaman was also sentenced on Thursday to 90 months, after having pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and possession of a firearm in furtherance of that crime.
The indictment and subsequent conviction of the Barabas brothers and Kaman was the result of a federal wiretap investigation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), with the assistance of the Knoxville Police Department and Knox County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation revealed that beginning in September 2007, Lance Barabas began shipping quantities of oxycodone from Florida to the Eastern District of Tennessee. Oxycodone is a synthetic form of heroin. The drug packages were received by his associates in Knoxville, who would then divide the oxycodone pills into smaller quantities for distribution by co-conspirators to customers in exchange for cash. During the two-year period that the group operated, it was responsible for distributing nearly 150,000 oxycodone pills.
At the sentencing hearings, U.S District Judge R. Leon Jordan referenced the “epidemic” of oxycodone sweeping the community and spoke of the need for the sentences to reflect the seriousness of these crimes, as well as deter would-be criminals from distributing prescription drugs.
Acting U.S. Attorney Gregg Sullivan stated, “Law enforcement officers throughout East Tennessee are now reporting that prescription pill abuse is their number one crime problem. DEA has identified it as our nation’s biggest drug problem. We will make every effort to identify, investigate, and prosecute those who are illegally diverting and distributing prescription pills in our communities. While the amount of drugs distributed by this organization was large, there are a number of groups responsible for the flood of pills in East Tennessee. Unscrupulous doctors, pain clinics, pharmacists, and patients are sources for pills that fall into the wrong hands. We need the public’s help to address this problem.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Lewen and Alexandra Hui prosecuted this case. To date, 14 individuals have been convicted of drug trafficking as a result of this investigation.
The case was brought as a part of the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supplyreduction strategythat attacks major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. DEA Task Force officers who worked on the investigation were provided funding bythe Appalachian High IntensityDrug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), a program funded by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. To report drug crimes or learn more about illegal drug diversion and the problems it is causing our country visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov.