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  1. Press Releases

Individual Indicted and Arrested for Smuggling Counterfeit and Misbranded Products from China

OCI BadgeDepartment of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Puerto Rico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 20, 2019

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On December 12, 2019, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment against Sameer Bani, charging him with seven counts, including: smuggling, receipt in interstate commerce and proffered delivery of misbranded articles, possession with intent to distibute a controlled substance, trafficking in counterfeit goods, and international money laundering, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA), Office of Criminal Investigations is in charge of the investigation with the collaboration of Homeland Security Investigations. Bani was arrested on Monday, December 16, and was granted bail while he awaits trial.

The indictment alleges that on April 2018, defendant Bani fraudulently and knowingly received, concealed, sold, and facilitated the transportation, concealment, and sale of merchandise contrary to law after importation, namely drugs imported from China that were misbranded in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 352(a), in that the drugs’ respective labeling was false or misleading for failure to properly declare active pharmaceutical ingredients, knowing that such merchandise had been imported and brought into the United States contrary to law.

The merchandise that the defendant illegaly imported from China was: Fruta Planta weight loss product containing undeclared sibutramine and phenolphthalein APIs; Li Da DAI DAI HUA weight loss product containing undeclared sibutramine, phenolphthalein, and sildenafil APIs; SlimExtreme Gold weight loss product containing undeclared phenolphthalein API; Enhanced Vegetal Vigra, Horney Lion, Plant Vigra, Paradise Ultra Plus, Lang Yi Hao, ExtenZe, Shanghai Ultra X, Suerosexx, Lobo, and La Pepa Negra male enhancement products containing undeclared sildenafil API.

The indictment further alleges that defendant Bani, aided and abetted by others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, did intentionally traffic in goods and knowingly used a counterfeit mark on and in connection with such goods, namely counterfeit Durex® condom foil wrappers.

Bani made three payments for the misbranded products via electronic transmissions of funds, each payment constituting a separate and distinct international money laundering violation.

“This defendant sold counterfeit and misbranded weight loss pills and misbranded male-enhancement pills. Some of these medications contained drugs that the consumers were not aware of and could endanger their health,” said United States Attorney, W. Stephen Muldrow. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with the FDA to protect the public from adulterated and misbranded products, and to ensure that dietary supplement sellers provide accurate information about their products.”

“American consumers must have confidence that the FDA-regulated products they are receiving are authentic and properly labeled with truthful information,” said Justin D. Green, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Miami Field Office. “Today’s announcement serves as a reminder of the FDA’s continued focus on those who put profits ahead of the public health by distributing misbranded drugs and counterfeit devices.”

Assistant United States Attorney Edward Veronda is in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted the defendant faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Topic(s):
Consumer Protection
Financial Fraud
Component(s):
USAO - Puerto Rico