Temple University Graduate Student Sentenced to 30 Years After Supplying Imported Drugs to Rogue Online Pharmacies

In December 2007, Akhil Bansal, an Indian physician and a graduate student at Temple University in Philadelphia, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, 5 years of supervised release and a forfeiture of $250,000 after being convicted of 2 counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, 1 count of continuing criminal enterprise, 2 counts of conspiracy to introduce misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, and 14 counts related to money laundering.

Bansal ran the domestic side of an international Internet pharmacy network that distributed millions of dollars worth of non-controlled and controlled drugs illegally imported from India. He worked in conjunction with his family in India to fill orders for unlicensed online pharmacies. Between 2003 and 2005 the operation saw $8 million in proceeds from the sale of medicines dispensed to patients without prescriptions. Authorities estimated that the business sold 2.5 million doses a month of drugs that included narcotics, anabolic steroids and amphetamines.

Who: DEA, FDA–OCI, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, FBI, U.S. Postal Inspectors, ICE, Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Philadelphia Police Department, Chester City Police Department, Delaware County C.I.D., Bristol Township Police, Lower Merion Police, Cheltenham Township Police, and Bensalem Township Police

When: July 2003–April 2005, convicted April 2006

Where: Philadelphia, PA

How: Investigation and a Federal indictment after an Airborne Express supervisor found Viagra and Valium being shipped without the correct documentation and with no evidence of a prescription.

Other information: Bansal was one of 17 people in 7 countries indicted in April 2005 on charges related to supplying misbranded drugs for the Bansal network or in running internet pharmacies that sold them.

The Bansal operation had approximately 100,000 customers worldwide, with 60 percent to 70 percent of them in the United States.

At least 2 patients reported atypical reactions (itching, rashes and swollen fingers) to medicine that had been supplied by the Bansals.

Related sources:

Leader of International Internet Drug Trafficking Network Found Guilty, Justice Department Press Release, April 17, 2006.

USA vs Akhil Bansal, superseding indictment, January 4, 2006
USA vs Akhil Bansal judgment, filed December 17, 2007 
Ankhil Bansal's confession to the FBI, April 19, 2005.

"DrugNet," the Philadelphia Inquirer's eight part series on the case

"Doctor gets jail for Web pill sale,"" Philadelphia Inquirer, December 15, 2007,