Dragnet: 33 Indicted in $157 Million Illegal Drug Scam


Thursday federal prosecutors in San Francisco announced the arrest of 33 people in a scam to sell $150 million worth of illegal pharmaceuticals.

Ara Karapedyan, 45, Mihran Stepanyan, 29, and Artur Stepanyan, 38, were key leaders in the conspiracy, which involved selling illegally obtained drugs to a company in Minnesota.

The head of the Minnesota Independent Cooperative, David Miller,  purchased $150 million in drugs from the threesome, knowing that they were obtained illegally, and then wholesaled them.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the drugs included painkillers and other medications used to treat HIV or cancer.

According to a statement released by the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California,  the Stepanyans created several shell companies from 2010 to 2014 to obfuscate the illegal drug sales. The indictment also stated that Karapedyan, who owns a North Hollywood pizzeria, allegedly delivered drugs to the Stepanyans  in addition to selling painkillers and HIV drugs to other co-defendants.

Prosecutors indicted Karapedyan and another defendant, Gevork Ter-Mkrtchyan, for an unsuccessful murder-for-hire plot, charging that the two made “several attempts” to find a hit-man to kill a person who had angered Ter-Mkrtchyan. Although they paid $1,500 for the execution, they never killed thier target.