News and Press Releases

Snohomish County Man Admits Involvement in Eight Pharmacy Burglaries

December 13, 2007

JOSHUA A. JAMES, 29, of Lake Stevens, Washington, pleaded guilty today 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.

According to court documents, JAMES was a principal burglar in a ring targeted by law enforcement in “Operation Midnight Sweep.” The ring, based in Marysville, Washington, burgled pharmacies in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California, using a similar method 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 GameStop 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 bought 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.

Another player in the burglary and drug distribution ring pleaded guilty yesterday. ROBERT L. CALKINS, 25, of Marysville, Washington, pleaded guilty 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 pills in his backpack. The pills had been stolen in one of the pharmacy burglaries. CALKINS was a distributor for the burglary ring. He also faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik 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 four 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 was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA), and the Stanwood Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald J. Friedman.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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