Crime

They’re going to prison after using sledge hammers to force their way into pharmacies

Justin McKeel and Shundrake McKeel
Justin McKeel and Shundrake McKeel

Two Louisiana men arrested in Biloxi after a series of sledge-hammer burglaries have been ordered to prison and to make restitution of $125,505.39.

Shundrake McKeel, 27, of Baton Rouge, and relative Justin McKeel, 37, of Avondale, were sentenced on guilty pleas on drug distribution charges involving prescription medications stolen in break-ins at nine pharmacies in South Mississippi and eastern Louisiana.

Chief U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. on Thursday sentenced Shundrake McKeel to serve 92 months, or seven years and eight months, in a federal penitentiary. His is convicted of possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, also known by the brand name of Oxycontin.

Guirola imposed a prison term of 102 months, or eight years and six months, for Justin McKeel on Aug. 22. His is convicted of possession with intent to distribute alprazolam, known by the brand name of Xanax.

They each must help repay the nine pharmacies for damages and losses, and must repay two different insurance companies who covered some of the claims, a judgment shows.

Agents first reported four break-ins had occurred in eight weeks in 2016: Coastal Pharmacy in Ocean Springs on Oct. 18; Long Beach Pharmacy in Long Beach on Aug. 21; Family Drug Mart in Pearl River, Louisiana, on Sept. 5; and at County Discount Pharmacy in Wiggins on Sept. 27.

The McKeels and co-defendant Lamarvin Haynes were arrested Oct. 18 just after the break-in reported in Ocean Springs.

In the Long Beach burglary, two men believed to be the McKeels were covered from head to toe when surveillance cameras at Long Beach Pharmacy showed it took them 30 minutes to break through the wall with a sledge hammer, an affidavit says. One of the men was shown on video “low-crawling” to a cabinet, trying to avoid detection.

In the Pearl River break-in, the men peeled metal off the building to get inside.

A DEA Task Force linked the men to pharmacy break-ins on the Mississippi Coast and in Wiggins as the investigation expanded to other pharmacy burglaries, where large amounts of prescription drugs were taken. Other drugs taken included hydrocodone, tapentadol, methadone and dextoamphetamine, according to an indictment handed down Nov. 15, 2016.

According to a judgment, the restitution order for Shundrake McKeel and Lamarvin Haynes includes payments to Coastal Pharmacy, Kiln Pharmacy, Long Beach Pharmacy, County Discount Drugs, Jones County Drugs, Petal Drugs, Polk’s Drugs, Family Drug Mart and Roger’s Family Pharmacy.

They also owe money to State Farm Fire and Casualty Company and Pharmacists Mutual Companies for some of the insurance claims.

Haynes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute alprazolam. He was sentenced to prison for five years on July 28.

Haynes was ordered to help re-pay a total of $16,252.55 to Coastal Pharmacy in Ocean Springs, County Discount Drugs in Wiggins and Pharmacists Mutual Companies, his judgment shows.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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