Food and Drug Administration
Office of Criminal Investigations
U.S. Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
May 20, 2014
United States Attorney
Southern District of Texas
Contact: Angela Dodge
Public Affairs Officer
HOUSTON - A Houston man pleaded guilty today to conspiring to smuggle and to traffic in counterfeit and misbranded pharmaceuticals, including Viagra tablets, from China, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O'Neil of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.
Nasif Baqla, 26, of Houston, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas to one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, to introduce misbranded prescription drugs into interstate commerce and to import such goods contrary to U.S. law.
Baqla was indicted on Aug. 22, 2012, as were two other individuals - Jamal Khattab, 49, of Katy, and Fayez Al-Jabri, 45, of Chicago - in a separate, but related case. Khattab and Al-Jabri each pleaded guilty on Dec. 3, 2013, and March 21, 2014, respectively, to the same conspiracy charge as Baqla, as well as trafficking in counterfeit goods and introducing counterfeit drugs into interstate commerce in violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
According to court documents, in July 2010, a package of counterfeit Viagra tablets was shipped from China to Houston, intended for Baqla and Khattab. The package was intercepted by Customs and Border Protection officers. Baqla claimed the pills were his and that he received them on behalf of a friend. Although the tablets were marked with trademarks substantially indistinguishable from the genuine marking on a legitimate Viagra pill, the drugs in the package were counterfeit and misbranded.
This matter was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Food and Drug Administration - Office of Criminal Investigations, Diplomatic Security Service and police departments in Houston and Chicago. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kebharu Smith and Assistant Deputy Chief for Litigation John Zacharia of the Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.