Two Pakistani nationals have been extradited to the United States for their alleged role in importing misbranded pharmaceuticals and controlled substances worth approximately $780,000 into the United Sates by offering them for sale via the Internet. The drugs were packaged and shipped from locations in the United Kingdom as well as Pakistan.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report May 20th on the extradition and arrest of Sheikh Waseem Ul Haq, and Tahir Saeed of Karachi, Pakistan. The two men are charged with “conspiracy to import controlled substance pharmaceuticals into the United States; conspiracy to distribute controlled substance pharmaceuticals; conspiracy to introduce misbranded pharmaceuticals into interstate commerce; importation and distribution of controlled substance pharmaceuticals; introduction into interstate commerce of misbranded drugs, and conspiracy to commit international money laundering. It also includes a forfeiture allegation seeking all proceeds that can be traced to the scheme.”
The DOJ reports that according to the indictment Ul Haq and Saeed allegedly owned and operated Waseem Enterprises and Harry’s Enterprises, along with other unidentified partners. Their operation posed as wholesale pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan. Using this operation, they were able to illegally sell controlled substances and misbranded prescription drugs via fake online pharmacies set up for the purpose. They are also alleged to have advertised their business via other Internet sites.
The DOJ report alleges further that Ul Haq and Saeed had US customers utilize Western Union for purchase payments, and had the funds sent to various subordinates to hide the true nature of their business. In Pakistan, the pair allegedly paid bribes to get drug shipments through customs.
The Pakistan-based fake online pharmacy is alleged to have started in late 2005 and continued until Ul Haq and Saeed were arrested in London in late 2012, reports the DOJ. The DOJ charges that the defendants sold misbranded versions of Ritalin, an assortment of anabolic steroids, Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonapin to US customers, along with other controlled and non-controlled substances of questionable provenance.
If they are convicted, Ul Haq and Saeed could face up to 20 years in prison for each of the two counts involving the conspiracy to import and distribute controlled substances, reports the DOJ. They also face possible 20 year sentences for conspiracy to commit international money laundering and a maximum penalty of five years for conspiracy to introduce misbranded pharmaceuticals into interstate commerce.
Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, announced, when the extradition was reported, “The illegal sale of prescription drugs by Internet pharmacies operating around the world presents a serious threat to public health and safety. Together with our federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners, the FBI will continue to diligently investigate the fraudulent sale of controlled prescription drugs to protect our citizens from this danger.”