January 10, 2014: Guilty Plea in Counterfeit Viagra and Cialis Case
Food and Drug Administration
Office of Criminal Investigations
U.S. Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
January 10, 2014
United States Attorney
Southern District of Texas
Contact: Angela Dodge
Public Affairs Officer
HOUSTON - Mohammad Jamal Rashid, 45, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy related to the illegal importation and attempted trafficking of counterfeit drugs and one count of receiving and delivering misbranded drugs, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Special Agent in Charge Brian Moskowitz of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Resident Agent in Charge Tommy R. Hennesy from the Food and Drug Administration - Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI).
"This conviction is the culmination of a multi-agency effort to prevent the smuggling and distribution of counterfeit pharmaceuticals across international borders," said Moskowitz. "This will serve as a reminder to those that choose to engage in illegal activity and endanger the public - that HSI will use all of its resources to identify, investigate and dismantle these criminal networks wherever they operate."
Rashid, a legal permanent resident originally from Pakistan and residing in Houston, admitted he conspired to illegally import counterfeit and misbranded Viagra® and Cialis® to his home in Houston under a false name and with a false declaration waybill. A total of 3,200 counterfeit Viagra® and 4,000 counterfeit Cialis® were sent to the defendant's home from China in open foil blister packs without packaging or labels.
Although the drugs sent to Rashid looked authentic, testing conducted by the FDA, Pfizer and Eli Lilly confirmed the drugs were not authentic and were in fact counterfeit and misbranded. The tablets had inconsistencies in physical appearance and packaging. Additionally, the counterfeit Viagra® had less of Pfizer's active pharmaceutical ingredient than the 100 mg stated on the foil pack, while the counterfeit Cialis® did not contain any of Eli Lilly's active pharmaceutical ingredients.
"Distributing counterfeit and misbranded drugs puts the health of the public at risk," said Hennesy. "The FDA will take firm action to protect unsuspecting consumers from products that are deceptive and could be dangerous to their health."
U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who accepted the plea, has set sentencing for April 7, 2014. At that time, Rashid is facing a possible punishment is up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy conviction and a maximum of three years and a $10,000 fine for receiving and delivering the misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.
Previously released on bond, Rashid was taken into custody following the hearing today where he will remain pending sentencing.
The investigation into Rashid was conducted by HSI and FDA-OCI. Assistant United States Attorney Julie Redlinger is prosecuting the case.