A man and woman from Forsyth County are among 12 people and two companies indicted by a federal grand jury in Ohio for reportedly operating an online pill mill.
James Hazelwood, 39, and 32-year-old Jennifer Ryan, who is also known as Jennifer Ryan Nelson, are among those charged with conspiring to traffic pharmaceutical drugs over the Internet.
They also face charges of drug trafficking, conspiring to launder the proceeds of such drug trafficking, money laundering and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise.
Helen Kann, 50, of Atlanta and Stephen Derks, 41, of Marietta face the same charges, along with other suspects from Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico.
The 37-count indictment, announced Thursday in a statement from the office of Steven Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney Northern District of Ohio, also charges Hazelwood’s company, USMeds.
“Prescription drug abuse is escalating and today’s actions signify our commitment to fighting it by targeting the sources,” Dettelbach said.
The indictment contends Hazelwood, USMeds and Ryan were among those who illegally distributed hundreds of thousands of powerful and addictive prescription medications over the Internet to customers in Ohio and nationwide.
Among the medications were painkillers made with hydrocodone and anti-anxiety pills such as Xanax.
Hazelwood and his company were also charged with laundering the proceeds gained from the illegal Internet-based operation in amounts that exceeded $10,000.
According to the statement, sentencing of those convicted will be based on a variety of factors, including prior criminal records, if any, their roles in the offenses and the characteristics of the violations.