Man faces 19 felony counts

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Los Alamos police initiate investigation which draws in federal agencies

By Carol A. Clark

A man was arrested Wednesday on a multitude of narcotics-related charges following a successful collaboration between Los Alamos police detectives and agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Randy Branch, 21, of Rio Arriba County was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque Thursday on 19 counts including unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm, health care fraud, acquiring or obtaining a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception or subterfuge, aggravated identity theft and identity theft. 

“Over the last several months the LAPD has worked very closely with the DEA and the FBI on this narcotics investigation,” said Los Alamos Det. Jeremy Duran, who served as lead detective in the case. “The investigation was initiated in Los Alamos and when it became apparent it was crossing jurisdictional lines I contacted the DEA.”

The grand jury indictment reveals that on or about Sept. 24, 2009 Branch caused to be submitted to a retail pharmacy in Rio Arriba County a forged and fraudulent prescription for 120 hydrocodone pills and another for 180 hydrocodone pills.

On Oct. 5, 2009, Branch submitted to a retail pharmacy in Rio Arriba County, a forged and fraudulent prescription for 90 oxycodone hydrochloride pills, according to court documents.

On Oct. 7, 2009, he attempted to obtain 180 hydrocodone tablets in the same manner, according to the indictment.

Branch reportedly made four additional attempts to purchase controlled substances in November including 60 dextromethamphetamine pills and 120 hydrocodone pills on Nov. 10 and 120 oxycodone hydrochloride pills and 180 tablets of hydrocodone Nov. 30.

Court documents also show two counts against Branch in November 2009 for using the identification of another person.

The grand jury has charged Branch with causing to be submitted to a retail pharmacy a forged and fraudulent prescription on six occasions during December 2009 for a total of 620 oxycodone hydrochloride tablets and 120 hydrocodone pills.

The indictment filed in U.S. District Court also charges that on Dec. 7, 2009 Branch executed and attempted to execute a scheme and artifice to

defraud a health care benefit program into paying for controlled substances that he was obtaining by material fraud, forgery, deception and subterfuge.

On Dec. 27, Branch also attempted the same scheme against Medicare, according to court documents.

The grand jury charges that on Feb. 18 of this year, Branch, being an unlawful user and addicted to a controlled substance, knowingly possessed in and affecting interstate commerce, firearms, including a .40 caliber handgun, a Saiga rifle and a Remington shotgun.  

Duran explained that cracking this complicated case involved a lot of legwork, which led his department and DEA investigators to locations across New Mexico.

“Our department commends the DEA and FBI for creating such a smooth collaboration,” Duran said. “Their quick response was very instrumental in the apprehension of this individual. We also want to recognize the U.S. Attorney’s office for their efforts in moving this case forward.”