Federal charges filed in pharmacy robbery cases

FILE - In this June 21, 2013, file photo, customers leave a Walgreens pharmacy in Jackson, Miss. Walgreens will use its $9.41 billion takeover of rival Rite Aid to spread its philosophy on making drugstores destinations for customers looking to stay healthy or buy beauty products. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Prosecutors charged nine adults and several juveniles in federal court in a string of pharmacy robberies.

There were 24 robberies total, dating back to October 2014. The US Attorney’s office traced them back to a gang known as “The Mob.”

They said the gang’s actions were funneling drugs into the streets. An operation they say is now over.

“My message now is clear: the days of the mob ruining the neighborhood is over,” said Josh Minkler, the US Attorney for Southern Indiana.

The individuals are now charged with racketeering, robbery, drug distribution, and firearms charges.

Minkler says they robbed pharmacies and then sold the stolen drugs on the streets.

They would even recruit juveniles, some as young as 12-years-old, and then intimidate them using social media.

One of the posts came from Facebook. Minkler says it read: “He got to die, if he testify. We do not work with the FBI.”

This investigation began in 2015, after someone shot and killed a 19-year-old in connection to a pharmacy robbery.

This is the same year Indiana ranked #1 for pharmacy robberies.

“Indianapolis never wants to be number 1 in those categories,” said Bryan Roach, the IMPD chief.

Authorities say the actions of the mob helped to contribute to the state’s opioid addiction problems.

“Criminal drug trafficking organizations exploit the addicted, poison our streets, and leave a trail of violence throughout our communities,” said Greg Westfall of the Drug Enforcement Agency.

One fugitive, Duwan Byers remains on the loose.

They say their work will continue even after he is captured.

“Community, we heard you. We saw a problem, we addressed the problem. We’re not done yet,” said Trevor Velinor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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