Federal agents take down opioid ring, seizing thousands of pills.
Southern California physician, 68-year-old Dr. John Michael Korzelius, or “Dr. K.,” is one of ten people charged with selling opioid prescriptions for cash through sham ChiroMed medical clinics. Federal grand jury indictments allege Korzelius and other individuals working under him prescribed more than 439,000 pills of high-dose oxycodone as part of a drug trafficking ring that was in operation for over two years. The others, ranging in age from 23 to 69, are either in custody or considered fugitives.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said patients “paid in cash for the medically unnecessary prescriptions at a Santa Ana pain management clinic.” Orchestrators of the scheme face charges including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, distribution of fentanyl and money laundering. The list of names shared by the DOJ and their roles include:
“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 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, of Medford, Massachusetts, who allegedly provided financing to Mureithi to purchase large quantities of oxycodone;
Louise W. Mureithi, 69, of Anaheim, Mureithi’s mother, who allegedly received packages of cash sent to her son for oxycodone;
Majid Nojavan, 42, of Laguna Niguel, who allegedly advertised oxycodone for sale on Craigslist, sold fentanyl to an undercover police officer, and escorted the undercover police office to a clinic to obtain a fraudulent oxycodone prescription.”
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents reported seizing 20,737 oxycodone pills and $177,610 in cash. Agents revealed they intercepted a mailed parcel containing a teddy bear stuffed with two bags of pills. The charges were issued as a result of an investigation conducted by the DEA and IRS Criminal Investigation into ChiroMed operating in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.
ChiroMed, whose site was still up earlier this month, marketed itself as a natural pain relief and wellness clinic. The site states, “ChiroMed Chiropractors not only treat soft and hard tissue problems such as sciatica and joint pain, they are often called upon to deal with more significant health issues. Some of these issues include fibromyalgia, allergies, insomnia, headaches and many more.” However, Korzelius and his co-conspirators had no intent on offering holistic care.
Korzelius reportedly has nearly four decades of medical with his primary specialty in plastic surgery and reconstructive medicine. He was Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.
Each defendant faces at least two decades in prison if convicted.