A Los Angeles County man was sentenced Thursday to 20 years behind bars for running a crew that committed 15 armed robberies of independent, mom-and-pop pharmacies across Southern California, with the intent of illegally selling the stolen prescription medication.
Tyrome “Boobie” Lewis, 26, was found guilty in June of all eight felony charges he faced. Lewis has been in federal custody since his arrest in July 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In a ruling issued following a two-day bench trial, U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt found Lewis guilty of one count each of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, and two counts each of interference with commerce by robbery, possession with intent to distribute oxycodone and knowingly using and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.
Prosecutors said Lewis conspired with others to commit 15 armed robberies from May 2018 to July 2019. He selected the pharmacies to be robbed, targeting smaller pharmacies to steal oxycodone and other prescription painkillers, prosecutors said.
Lewis also assigned the roles of the crew members, and then served as a lookout while they committed the robberies, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Following the pharmacy robberies, Lewis and others would sell the stolen prescription drugs on the black market.
The Lewis-led crew — dubbed the “Oxy Bandits” by law enforcement — robbed pharmacies in Glendale, Bellflower, Paramount, Cerritos, Hawthorne, South Los Angeles, Pico Rivera, Huntington Park, Claremont, Westminster, Fullerton, Anaheim and Riverside, according to prosecutors.
Each of the robberies shared a common practice, including targeting smaller pharmacies, placing the stolen prescription drugs into the pharmacy’s trash bags or trash cans, using a black semi-automatic handgun to threaten and intimidate store employees, and forcing employees to open the medication vault, prosecutors said.
The guilty verdict stemmed from a broader investigation by the FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department of armed pharmacy robberies. As a result, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged 21 individuals for their roles in various drug store heists. Since the investigation began in 2019, 19 individuals, including Lewis, have been convicted for their participation in pharmacy robberies, while two defendants await trial, prosecutors said.