The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the sentencing of a New Ipswich, New Hampshire couple for their roles in a scheme to distribute misbranded prescription drugs purchased from India to customers around the U.S. John Hayes received a 30-month sentence and Plabpleung Hayes will serve one year and one day in prison. She also faces possible deportation back to Thailand once her sentence is completed. PSM previously covered this case after the couple pleaded guilty in court in September 2017. The defendant distributed foreign versions of hydrocodone, Percocet, Valium, Xanax, Adderall, Ritalin, Ativan, Ambien, tramadol, soma, sildenafil, and tadalafil.
According to court documents and statements made in court, between February 2012 and September 2013, the defendants and other co-conspirators received over 2.4 million misbranded prescription pills purchased from a company in India. After receiving orders from customers in the U.S., they shipped more than 5,000 packages of pills to addresses throughout the country. Despite using multiple Post Office boxes located in southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts to receive the shipments, John Hayes did not escape the notice of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP seized more than 60 shipments destined to locations he controlled. Inside the seized packages were more than 100,000 pills in blister packs, but with no external packaging or directions for use. CBP sent multiple letters to John Hayes informing him that the shipments were seized due to a violation of federal regulations on the importation of controlled substances.
U.S. Investigators found more than 100,000 pills when they executed a search warrant at the Hayes’s house in New Ipswich, along with shipping labels, empty shipping containers, and other documents. Included in those documents were two letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) informing John Hayes about the refused entry of shipments of tramadol tablets he had ordered. U.S. Attorney Scott W. Murray said, “Misbranded drugs present a danger to the public. The millions of pills that the defendants were distributing were not approved by the FDA and had the potential to harm, rather than heal, those who took them. The defendants placed their interests in profits over patient safety. I commend the law enforcement agents whose hard work dismantled this criminal scheme.”
The FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation all contributed to the investigation of this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold Huftalen and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Hawkins, who is Senior Counsel, Office of Chief Counsel at the FDA, prosecuted this case.