Indian Businessman Charged with Drug Importation, Smuggling, and Money Laundering Offenses
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 27, 2019
PITTSBURGH, PA - A citizen and resident of Mumbai, India, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of violating the federal narcotics, smuggling, and money laundering laws, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
The eight-count Indictment, returned on June 26, named Jeetendra Harish Belani, aka Jeetu, age 36, of Mumbai, India, as the sole defendant. He is charged with conspiracy to import Schedule II and Schedule IV controlled substances, conspiracy to smuggle drugs into the United States, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and various substantive counts of drug importation, smuggling, and money laundering.
According to the Indictment, Belani operated a drug-distribution entity based in India called LeeHPL Ventures. Between 2015 and 2019, Belani and his co-conspirators, through LeeHPL Ventures, allegedly imported and smuggled into the United States various drugs available only by prescription in the United States, including Tapentadol, a Schedule II controlled substance, as well as Tramadol, Carisoprodol, and Modafinil, all Schedule IV controlled substances. The Indictment also alleges that between 2015 and mid-2017, Belani conspired with William Kulakevich and Julia Fees to unlawfully smuggle a drug known as Etizolam into the United States for re-sale by Kulakevich and Fees via a website they operated—www.etizy.com. Etizolam is part of a class of drugs similar to benzodiazepines, which are often used to treat insomnia and anxiety and carry a potential for abuse and overdose. To evade detection by United States Customs and Border Protection officials, Belani and his co-conspirators also allegedly used false customs declarations that mischaracterized and undervalued the contents of packages sent to the United States by LeeHPL Ventures. In addition, according to the Indictment, Belani caused drug shipments to be broken into smaller quantities and shipped to multiple addresses to help ensure delivery and avoid interception by United States customs authorities. Belani also caused co-conspirators to initiate payments totaling tens of thousands of dollars from accounts in the United States to accounts controlled by Belani in India or other locations outside the United States, all as a means to promote Belani’s continued efforts to smuggle drugs into the United States.
The most serious offenses with which Belani is charged, involving importation of a Schedule II controlled substance, carry a maximum sentence of not more than twenty years in prison, a fine of not more than $1,000,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The United States Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
USAO - Pennsylvania, Western