10 facing federal drug trafficking charges related to distribution of opioids through bogus pain clinics across Southern California
SANTA ANA, Calif. – Law enforcement authorities, including special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles, this morning arrested four defendants charged in two federal grand jury indictments alleging a narcotics trafficking ring that sold illegal opioid prescriptions for cash through a series of sham medical clinics.
Those charged in the indictments include Dr. John Michael Korzelius, 68, a.k.a. “Dr. K,” of Camarillo, who worked at a Santa Ana pain management clinic where he allegedly wrote medically unnecessary prescriptions to “patients” who paid cash. Over the course of two years, Korzelius and other medical professionals working under his guidance, prescribed approximately 439,090 pills of 30mg oxycodone – the highest dose of short-acting oxycodone available, and the dose most popular for the drug-abusing population, according to court documents.
The charges in this matter are the result of an investigation into ChiroMed, which operated a group of chiropractic, medical and wellness clinics in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties. Korzelius, along with other medical professionals, including physician’s assistants, allegedly met with fraudulent patients and provided them with unnecessary prescriptions for drugs, including oxycodone.
The two grand jury indictments unsealed today charge 10 defendants with a variety of narcotics-related offenses, including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, distribution of fentanyl, and money laundering.
Along with Korzelius, the indictments charge:
- Justin Douglas Cozart, 42, of Woodland Hills, who operated and supervised the ChiroMed medical clinics;
- Damoon Joe Navarchi, 33, of Woodland Hills, who assisted Cozart in operating the clinics;
- Xavier Muduki Mabale, 42, of Anaheim, who is accused of recruiting sham patients to obtain fraudulent oxycodone prescriptions from the medical clinics;
- Mayra Barrios, 37, of Yorba Linda, who allegedly oversaw the day-to-day management of the medical clinics, including the issuance of fraudulent oxycodone prescriptions to sham patients;
- Harrison Maruje Mureithi, 42, of Norco, who allegedly coordinated the purchase, collection, packaging, and shipment of oxycodone to buyers on the East Coast;
- Duncan Muthoni Wanjohi, 23, of Anaheim, who allegedly assisted Mureithi in the buying and shipping of narcotics;
- Pierre Delva, Jr., 33, a.k.a. “Big Head,” of Medford, Massachusetts, who allegedly provided financing to Mureithi to purchase bulk quantities of oxycodone; and
- Louise W. Mureithi, 69, of Anaheim, Harrison Mureithi’s mother, who allegedly received packages of cash sent to her son for oxycodone;
- Majid Nojavan, 42, of Laguna Niguel, charged in a spinoff case from the primary investigation, who allegedly advertised oxycodone for sale on Craigslist, sold fentanyl to an undercover police officer, and escorted the undercover police office to an Inglewood medical clinic to obtain a fraudulent oxycodone prescription.
Harrison Mureithi, Mabale, Louise Mureithi, and Nojavan were arrested this morning, and they are expected to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. Korzelius, Cozart, Navarchi, and Barrios are being summonsed into court and are expected to make their initial appearances in U.S. District Court next week. Delva and Wanjohi are fugitives.
As a result of a two-year investigation into the fraudulent medical clinics, law enforcement seized 20,737 oxycodone pills, and $177,610 in cash – and intercepted a mailed parcel contained a teddy bear stuffed with two bags of oxycodone pills.
If convicted of the charges, the defendants each would face a statutory maximum sentence of at least 20 years in federal prison.
The investigation of Majid Nojavan was conducted by HSI Los Angeles’s Orange County Office and the Costa Mesa Police Department. The probe into the sham medical clinics was handled by the Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS Criminal Investigation.
These cases are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California’s Santa Ana Branch Office.