Two Pakistani nationals, who have been held in continuous custody since their October 2012 arrest in London, have been sentenced by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, after pleading guilty to charges related to their operation of Internet sites that illegally shipped pharmaceuticals from Pakistan and the United Kingdom to customers in the United States, the Department of Justice announced.
Sheikh Waseem Ul Haq, 43, and Tahir Saeed, 54, operated Internet sites that, from late 2005 until October 2012, illegally shipped $2 million of pharmaceuticals from Pakistan and the United Kingdom to customers worldwide, including nearly $780,000 in sales to U.S. purchasers.
Ul Haq was sentenced today to time served. On Sept. 23, Saeed was sentenced to time served.
Both defendants will remain in federal custody pending their removal from the United States to Pakistan.
Following both defendants October 2012 arrest at a hotel near Heathrow Airport by the London Metropolitan Police Service Fugitive Squad, they were extradited to the District of Columbia in the spring of 2013, following the return in November 2012 of a 48-count indictment.
In addition to their prison terms, each defendant agreed to forfeit $388,265.11.
Ul Haq pleaded guilty to all 48 counts of the indictment, which 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 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.
As part of the guilty pleas, the defendants admitted that they owned and operated two businesses, Waseem Enterprises and Harry’s Enterprises.
Both businesses were used to conduct wholesale pharmaceutical sales, as well as to unlawfully distribute a wide variety of controlled substances and prescription drugs through Internet sites.
The defendants directed U.S. customers to submit payments via Western Union to numerous individuals in Karachi, Pakistan, in order to conceal the fact that the funds were going to Ul Haq and Saeed.
In e-mails, the defendants admitted that they paid bribes to Pakistani customs officials to facilitate shipment of the drugs out of Pakistan. The defendants packaged the drug shipments in ways that reduced the likelihood of interdiction by customs inspectors.
The drugs the defendants shipped into the United States included methylphenidate (sold as Ritalin); various anabolic steroids; alprazolam (sold as Xanax); diazepam (sold as Valium), lorazepam (sold as Ativan); clonazepam (sold as Klonapin) 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.
“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.
The Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force sponsored and supported this complex investigation, which was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs assisted with the extradition and additional assistance was received from the London Metropolitan Police Service, INTERPOL and law enforcement agents in Germany.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. Dominguez of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Senior Litigation Counsel Linda I. Marks of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.