The Department of Justice announced that two Pakistani nationals were sentenced for shipping more than $780,000 drugs into the US. Both men were sentenced by Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. London police arrested the suspects in 2012 and extradited them to US on a 48-count indictment.
Sheikh Waseem Ul Haq, 43, and Tahir Saeed, 54, operated an illegal online pharmacy. Between 2005 and 2012, the two shipped out $2m worth of pharmaceuticals to customers worldwide, operating from the UK and Pakistan. The US received $780,000 worth of the illegal pharmaceuticals, setting both men in US law enforcement’s scope.
Both defendants were arrested at Heathrow Airport by the London Metropolitan Police Service Fugitive Squad in 2012. They were then extradited to the US and have been sitting in federal custody since the extradition.
Ul Haq pleaded guilty to all 48 counts of the indictment. The indictment, consisting only of drug-related and money laundering crimes, charged him with conspiracy to import Schedule II, III and IV controlled substance pharmaceuticals into the United States; conspiracy to distribute Schedule II, III and IV 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.
Saeed, sentenced a few days prior to Ul Haq, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import Schedule II, III and IV controlled substance pharmaceuticals into the United States; conspiracy to introduce misbranded pharmaceuticals into interstate commerce and conspiracy to commit international money laundering.
Both men were sentenced to prison time that included time served prior to the hearing. Each defendant was additionally ordered to forfeit $388,265.11.
Ul Haq and Saeed, in their guilty pleas, admitted that they owned two businesses: Waseem Enterprises and Harry’s Enterprises. The businesses were used as bases of operation; wholesale pharmaceutical sales were conducted through them. Controlled substances and prescription drugs were distributed via the internet from both locations.
US customers were directed to make payments via Western Union to various contacts on Karachi, Pakistan, in an effort to conceal Ul Haq and Saeed’s identity. In the guilty pleas, the men revealed that they paid bribes to Pakistani customs officials. The bribes were to facilitate the shipment of drugs of of Pakistan. Packages were also disguised in various ways to reduce the likelihood of seizure by international customs.
Customers from the United States received various drugs from the online pharmacy. The plea revealed the following: methylphenidate, various anabolic steroids, alprazolam, diazepam, lorazepam, clonazepam, and other controlled and non-controlled substances.
“This prosecution demonstrates how the use of the Internet to distribute drugs illegally is a major threat to consumers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. He continued:
These defendants operated their Internet marketing scheme from Pakistan and were able to ship drugs illegally and directly to U.S. citizens. We will enforce the law to protect consumers from adulterated, contaminated and counterfeit drugs and assure that only medically necessary drugs are dispensed by licensed pharmacists who are filling legitimately issued prescriptions by licensed physicians.
“We will continue to work with our partners, nationally and internationally, to protect our country from those who are intent on shipping unregulated and potentially dangerous drugs into the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia.