HOUSTON — A 70-year-old Houston grandmother from the Phillipines has been charged with being the ring leader of a codeine distribution ring.
The woman, Lucita Uy, banked at least $10 million and used her own renegade pharmacies to purchase 97,000 pints of prescription-strength cough syrup and smuggle them from California to Houston to make a deadly potion wildly popular in the hip-hop world.
The syrup used in “Purple Drank” goes for $300 to $600 a pint on the streets of Houston, and was enough to provide at least 1.5 million doses, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“This is a big case, but I wish it was the only one,” said Sarah Pullen, a spokeswoman for the DEA in Los Angeles. “It would definitely supply a lot of people.”
Arrested as the accused ringleader was Lucita Uy, a 70-year-old grandmother originally from the Philippines. She served 20 months in federal prison a decade ago for money laundering.