Federal and local law enforcement arrested three men in connection to 26 pharmacy robberies in a 7-month span, according to federal court documents.
Of the 26 robberies or attempted robberies, 22 have been at CVS pharmacies, with the South Breiel Boulevard location in Middletown having been hit three times. Two robberies were at Walgreens and two more at Rite Aid stores.
From Oct. 1, 2016 until April 30, 2017, a string of pharmacy robberies police said used the same “modus operandi” have happened in Dayton, Dublin, Beavercreek, Vandalia, Cincinnati, Fairfield, Middletown, Franklin, Hamilton, Westerville, Columbus, Trotwood and Kettering.
Those arrested and facing Tuesday detention hearings include Eric L. Bates, 20, Yasar J. Burnett, 18, and Brandon Dawson, 18. They also have preliminary hearings scheduled for May 18. They were arrested May 4.
The trio is specifically charged with conspiracy and interference with commerce by threat or violence for robbing the Rite Aid at 1915 Central Ave. in Middletown on April 29, according to a criminal complaint written by FBI special agent Patrick Gragan.
The complaint said the pharmacist said two black males in dark clothing — one with gold teeth — jumped over the counter, struck her in the back and yelled, “Open the safe. Where is the safe?”
The pharmacist filled a bag with items from the safe, including Oxycontin and a GPS tracking device, according to Gragan.
The complaint said the pharmacy technician heard the pharmacist yell and described two black males, skinny in build and in their late teens to early 20s. Surveillance video identified the suspects as described, who both motioned to someone off camera.
By monitoring the GPS device, law enforcement tracked and stopped a 2004 white Pontiac that included the three men and many prescription medicine bottles, Gragan wrote.
Burnett and Bates admitted to the April 29 robbery, the complaint said, while Burnett said they were going to sell the drugs and Bates said they were going to meet a middle man in Indianapolis.
There have been more robberies at CVS stores before and after the three suspects were first stopped in Middletown.
Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies investigated a robbery April 26 at the CVS at 4901 N. Main St., which was believed to have been hit by two to four suspects who got away in a black Lincoln SUV.
A CVS at 2801 Far Hills Ave. in Oakwood was robbed May 1. Police said one suspect passed a note to an employee saying it was a robbery and to give up pain prescription medications.
On May 6, one man was arrested at the CVS at 1331 N. Fairfield Road in Beavercreek. Police apprehended the man as he tried to leave because they got there within 20 or 30 seconds of a call for help.
“Officers responded to the area and we were able to take one black male into custody,” Beavercreek police Sgt. Nick Amato said. “He did drop a note that said it was an armed robbery.”
Other people have been arrested in some CVS robberies, including Savon Davis, 23, and Calvin Tribble, 19, who are accused of one of the robberies at Middletown’s South Breiel Boulevard location.