Feds raid Book Cadillac hotel in Detroit as part of alleged opioid scheme

Carol Thompson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Federal authorities raided the Westin Book Cadillac hotel Wednesday as part of an investigation into an opioid distribution scheme prosecutors said put almost $1 million worth of prescription drugs onto the streets.

Detroit residents Dangelo Terrell Stephens, 38, and Latasha Maria Neely, 38, are accused of recruiting patients and bringing their information to clinics, including Tranquility Wellness Center, where providers would write prescriptions in exchange for cash, the U.S. Department of Justice said in an indictment unveiled  Wednesday. 

Stephens lives at the Book Cadillac. His apartment was raided Wednesday. 

The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit Michigan.

Three Tranquility employees, Janeice Minique Burrell, Angelo Martese Smith and Lawrence Mark Sherman, are accused of distributing millions of dollars worth of controlled substances in a related indictment. Tranquility operated in Dearborn and St. Clair Shores. 

Once the unlawful prescriptions were written, pharmacy technician Hassan Samir Saad, 33, and Ali Hussein Keblawi, 26, both of Dearborn, knowingly filled them at Heritage Medical Pharmacy in Redford where they work, prosecutors allege.

The pharmacy workers filled the illegitimate prescriptions in exchange for cash, authorities said. Stephens and Neely then allegedly sold those drugs on the street. 

In total, the group distributed more than 30,000 units of the drugs with a street value of more than $925,000. More than $200,000 was billed to Medicare and Medicaid programs during the scheme, prosecutors said. 

In July, prosecutors indicted Stephens, Neely, Saad and Keblawi with conspiracy to illegally distribute prescription drugs and other opioid-related charges. 

Saad was arraigned in federal court Wednesday and released on a $10,000 unsecured bond. His attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.

"The fundamental purpose of both writing and filling the prescriptions is not the legitimate treatment of patients, but rather, to obtain controlled substances that could be sold on the illegal street market for substantial profit," the indictment reads.

Stephens also is charged with unlawful distribution of controlled substances, specifically Oxycodone pills. Stephens, Saad and Keblawi are charged with one count of aiding and abetting the distribution of Oxycodone.

Oxycodone, oxymorphone and Percocet were the drugs primarily peddled through the scheme. Prosecutors said they have high demand on the illegal market. 

"The road to addiction often begins with prescription drugs," acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin said. "It is for this reason we are focusing our efforts on removing individuals who contribute to the devastating opioid crisis in this country."

The FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General investigated the case. 

ckthompson@detroitnews.com