Belgian Citizen Pleads Guilty to Selling Counterfeit Drugs in US via Online Pharmacy

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Belgian citizen Manuel Calvelo pleaded guilty to charges he operated an Internet pharmacy that sold $1.4 million worth of misbranded and counterfeit drugs as well as controlled substances.

Who: Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigation, Justice Department’s Office of Consumer Litigation, U.S. District Attorney’s Office.

When: Convicted January 21, 2011; Crimes committed 2005-2008.

Where: He operated a customer service call center in the Philippines and issued payments to employees in the Philippines, Costa Rica and the United States. He also received payments from customers via credit card processors in the Netherlands. And he hosted his website in Overland Park, Kansas and Columbus, Ohio.

How: In 2007, an undercover agent from the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations made purchases from Calvelo’s Web sites. The agent later contacted Calvelo through the Costa Rica Off-Shore Business Center posing as a pharmaceutical wholesaler in the United States seeking to establish an on-line pharmacy. In conversations with the agent via video conference calls on Skype, Calvelo admitted his role in the Internet pharmacy scheme and provided details of the operation.

Additional details: Calvelo, who was arrested in Costa Rica and extradited to Kansas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of conspiracy to commit drug trafficking. In his plea, he admitted that from 2005 to 2008 he and another man operated Web sites offering for sale without a prescription misbranded and counterfeit drugs to customers in the United States in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Calvelo’s Web sites offered for sale more than 40 prescription drugs including brand names Viagra, Depakote, Glucophage, Zoloft, Lipitor, Cialis, Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin. Controlled substances for sale from the Web site included Alprazolam (sold under the brand name Xanax), Lorazapam (Ativan) and Clonazepam (Klonopin). Under federal law, the crime of misbranding includes dispensing a prescription drug without a valid prescription from a licensed practitioner.

Calvelo’s Web sites included cheapestviagraworldwide.com, allcheapdrugs.com, allcheappills.com, cheapdrugspharmacy.com, allmedspharmacy.net, allnaturalpharmacy.com, horizonpharmacy.net, and trustgeneric.com.

Related sources:

"Belgian Citizen Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges in Kansas," KAKE ABC News Kansas. January 21st, 2011.

"Internet Pharmacy Sold Counterfeit Viagra, Misbranded Drugs," FDA-ICE Criminal Investigations Press Release. January 21, 2011.

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