Nationwide Oxycodone Trafficking Ring Dismantled
18 Defendants from Four States Convicted
PORTLAND, Ore. – Kingsley Iyare Osemwengie, 27, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was sentenced by U.S. District Senior Judge Ancer L. Haggerty today to 210 months in prison. Osemwengie pled guilty in December of 2012 to a three-count indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, conspiracy to launder drug proceeds, and conspiracy to violate the travel act, for his pivotal role in an oxycodone distribution ring that involved drug trafficking and money laundering activity in Massachusetts, Nevada, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Utah, Colorado, New York, Washington, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Oregon, between January 2008 and his arrest in March of 2011. He became the 18th defendant convicted in this case. This investigation, dubbed Operation Trick or Treat, was the largest oxycodone trafficking case in the history of the District of Oregon based on the sheer volume of oxycodone distributed, the geographic scope of the conspiracy, and the enormous profits generated for the benefit of the defendants.
“This is the largest oxycodone trafficking conspiracy ever prosecuted in Oregon, and one of the largest in the nation,” said United States Attorney Amanda Marshall. “Stemming the flow of prescription opiates is a crucial feature of our drug enforcement strategy, as addiction from these drugs and the conversion to heroin use is a national epidemic. I commend the exceptional agency partnerships that brought these conspirators to justice. In addition to the sentence in this case, the court forfeited more than $600,000 in drug proceeds. Taking the profit out of drug trafficking is another key part of our deterrence strategy.”
Oxycodone is a Schedule II drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. As a prescription-only product, this powerful pain reliever from the opioid family carries a high risk of abuse, addiction, and overdose, including death. In 2011, at least 93 overdose deaths in Oregon were caused by oxycodone and its cousin painkiller hydrocodone. People who become addicted to oxycodone often switch to the opiate heroin that is much cheaper and more easily obtainable on the street. This frequently leads to heroin addiction, overdose, and occasionally death.
While on supervised release for two prior federal felonies involving fraud, Osemwengie, operating from Las Vegas, Nevada, and associate Olubenga Temitope Badamosi, 34, a Nigerian citizen living in Milwaukie, Oregon, arranged for tens of thousands of oxycodone pills, acquired in Miami and Las Vegas, to be distributed to customers all over the United States. They used call girls and couriers to transport oxycodone and money across the country. Investigators identified 774 airplane flights for 71 different couriers to 40 different American cities at a total cost of $96,000 during the life of the conspiracy. At other times, drugs and money were transported by commercial carrier or through the mail. Over 10,000 oxycodone pills and 1,900 counterfeit oxycodone pills were seized by investigators in this case. A single 80 milligram oxycodone pill sold for a range of $30 wholesale to $80 retail.
Osemwengie, Badamosi, and other conspirators netted millions of dollars of drug proceeds that allowed them to live opulent lifestyles. Between January of 2008 and October of 2010, cash deposits totaling $1,218,000 were made into six bank accounts controlled by Osemwengie. He created several shell companies to disguise the source of his income and maintained luxury residences in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Miami, Florida, one of which carried a $10,000 per month rent. Meanwhile, he drove high-end automobiles including two Mercedes Benzes and four Bentleys, one of which he purchased with $118,500 in cash. Badamosi acquired expensive jewelry appraised at $114,000, including two flashy, diamond-encrusted watches containing 800 and 1,000 diamonds, respectively. Defendant Allotey owned a diamond-studded pendant appraised at $32,000. Investigators seized and forfeited all of this jewelry, along with over $133,000 in cash, bank accounts totaling over $100,000, six (6) handguns, and nine (9) vehicles, including two Bentleys and four Mercedes Benzes. The dollar value of the forfeited assets exceeds $600,000.
The following defendants have previously been sentenced for oxycodone conspiracy charges arising out of this case:
- Badamosi, 34, of Milwaukie, OR, sentenced to 87 months prison;
- David George Hollins II, 29, of Portland, OR, sentenced to 41 months prison;
- Hung Van Pham, 32, of Vancouver, WA, sentenced to 27 months prison;
- Shaun Wesley Tyler, 32, of Las Vegas, NV, sentenced to 37 months prison;
- Marcus Charles Albert, 33, of Las Vegas, NV, sentenced to 63 months prison;
- Melvin A. Allotey, 29, of Las Vegas, NV, sentenced to 48 months prison;
- Mei Lynn Pham, 32, of Portland, OR, sentenced to 33 months prison;
- Adam Garrott Lewis, 28, of Portland, OR, sentenced to 37 months prison;
- Leamon Dlloyd Madden, 28, of Portland, OR, sentenced to 37 months prison;
- Isaiah Griffith, 28, of Portland, OR, sentenced to 30 months prison;
- Heather O'Rourke, 22, of Portland, OR, sentenced to 27 months prison;
- Christopher Gene Buckland, 35, of Portland, OR, sentenced to 30 months prison;
- Heath Leroy Bloodgood, 42, of Portland, OR, sentenced to 37 months prison;
- Thanh Quoc Nguyen, 32, of Portland, OR, sentenced to 41 months prison; and,
- Lee Justin Wells, 34, of Tacoma, WA, sentenced to 41 months prison.
Two other codefendants have pled guilty to related oxycodone conspiracy charges and are scheduled for sentencing before Judge Haggerty in Portland:
- Reina Tomiko Nakachi, 27, of Las Vegas, NV, sentencing on June 10, 2013, and,
- Sarah Nilsen, 26, of Miami, FL, sentencing on June 17, 2013.
“Opiate addiction is the center of the storm which leaves behind a path of devastation,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes. “This was a sophisticated drug trafficking organization that diverted legitimate medicine into the black market across the United States. The sheer greed of these 18 defendants led them to live lavish lifestyles while ruining many lives. DEA and our law enforcement partners are determined to continue to aggressively pursue those who are responsible for the high rate of prescription drug abuse in Oregon.”
“Prescriptions such as oxycodone used illegally can destroy lives—especially in young people who may use it as a springboard to other illegal narcotics,” stated Portland Police Chief Mike Reese. “The successful prosecution of large-scale distribution and trafficking cases such as this will help stop the flow of illegal oxycodone into the hands of our children and our community.”
“Today’s prison sentence is a reminder of the serious consequences drug traffickers face for bringing illicit drugs into our communities,” said Bradford Bench, Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Seattle. “When you’re talking about a dangerous and highly addictive drug that ruins lives and fosters further crime with illicit profits, the risks to public safety are real. HSI remains committed to dismantling the international drug trade while ensuring that those involved don’t benefit financially.”
“These sentencings are a reminder that justice will be served on individuals who put the safety of our community at risk by selling and profiting from the illegal sale of the dangerous drug oxycodone,” said Tamera D. Cantu, Assistant Special Agent of IRS Criminal Investigation in Seattle. “IRS CI and our law enforcement partners are committed to dismantling similar drug trafficking organizations.”
This case was initiated in June of 2010 by the Oregon HIDTA Interdiction Task Force (HIT) who partnered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Portland Police Bureau. Additional law enforcement assistance was provided by the U.S. Marshals, Oregon National Guard, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Ft. Lauderdale Police Department, Broward County Sheriffs Office, Clackamas County Sheriffs Office, Westside Interagency Narcotics Task Force (WIN), and the Clark-Vancouver Drug Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Geoffrey A. Barrow and John F. Deits, prosecuted the criminal case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leslie Westphal and AnneMarie Sgarlata handled the asset forfeitures in the case.
This case was an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF is a federally-funded program established in 1982 whose mission is to support comprehensive, multi-agency investigations designed to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. This case was also an investigation under the Oregon High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, sponsored by the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). HIDTA is a counterdrug grant program that provides funding, coordination, and intelligence resources to multi-agency drug enforcement task forces seeking to disrupt or dismantle local, multi-state, and international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.