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Drug conspiracies easy to commit online, says Dept. of Homeland Security

Thomas and Frank Janis were indicted in January of last year, charged with purchasing and...
Thomas and Frank Janis were indicted in January of last year, charged with purchasing and distributing more than 56,000 tablets of a drug called Tramadol, a schedule 4 opiate that’s distributed outside of the United States.(HSI)
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 5:45 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Last Month, two Rapid City men were sentenced in federal court for a conspiracy to distribute drugs. Their conviction and sentencing were brought about by a Homeland Security investigation that found the men were easily able to purchase the drugs online.

Thomas and Frank Janis were indicted in January of last year, charged with purchasing and distributing more than 56,000 tablets of a drug called Tramadol, a schedule 4 opiate that’s distributed outside of the United States.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s investigative division, or HSI, found that the men were able to purchase the drugs online easily and cheaply.

Nick Saroff, the resident investigator for HSI in Rapid City, said that the Tramadol, in this case, came from India, which doesn’t ship narcotics directly to the United States. Instead, distribution routes through Germany and other countries are used to get the drugs to the U.S.

Saroff said that countries like India don’t have regulatory systems when processing drugs. This can result in drugs like Tramadol that have traces of other, stronger drugs inside the containers.

“When you’re expecting a 10mg pill like Tramadol, and it turns out to be 100mg of things like OxyContin, Oxycodone, or some other narcotic, it can cause a lot of damage,” Saroff said.

Over the course of the investigation, HIS sought the help of organizations like the Indian Health Services, and the U.S. Postal Service.

The U-S Postal Inspections Service was able to help track when the shipment of these drugs arrived and where they were dispersed to.

The Postal Service tells us in a statement that it’s a top priority of the USPS to seize illegal drug shipments in the mail.

But at the rate that the opioid crisis continues to rise, Saroff said that it can be difficult to track every package that contains illegal drugs.

“This is a substance that’s highly addictive, and people will do anything to feed that addiction, and other people will capitalize on it,” Saroff said. “Greed is the base problem. People will deal drugs if there’s someone who purchases them.”

Saroff said that HSI deals with imported drug cases a couple of times a week in Rapid City alone.

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