Two men were arrested today for allegedly conspiring to traffic in counterfeit and misbranded medicine, specifically Viagra. The arrests were announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.
Jamal Khattab, 49, of Katy, Texas, and Fayez Al-Jabri, 45, of Chicago, were charged in an 11-count indictment, which was unsealed today in the Southern District of Texas. Khattab will appear tomorrow before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson in Houston, while Al-Jabri made his appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys in Chicago, at which time he was ordered into custody pending an identity and detention hearing scheduled for Thursday morning.
The indictment charges Khattab with one count of conspiracy, one count of smuggling goods into the United States, two counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods, two counts of trafficking in misbranded drugs and two counts of trafficking in counterfeit drugs. Al-Jabri is charged with one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods, one count of trafficking in misbranded drugs and one count of trafficking in counterfeit drugs.
According to the indictment, from June 2010 through March 2012, the defendants smuggled counterfeit Viagra from China into the United States. The counterfeit Viagra would then allegedly get shipped either to Chicago or to Houston in bulk for later distribution in smaller quantities.
The indictment further alleges that law enforcement initially became aware of the smuggling in July 2010. At that time, Khattab was identified as an intended recipient of a package of counterfeit Viagra that was shipped from China to Houston and was intercepted by law enforcement agents in San Francisco. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) agents in Houston were notified of the shipment and commenced an investigation.
The indictment further alleges that from January 2011 through September 2011, Khattab and Al-Jabri delivered approximately 17,000 counterfeit and misbranded Viagra tablets to an undercover agent who had successfully infiltrated the counterfeit pharmaceutical trafficking organization.
Both men face up to five years in prison for the conspiracy, upon conviction, as well as a $250,000 fine. Trafficking in misbranded drugs and counterfeit drugs carries as possible punishment up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine, while trafficking in counterfeit goods could result in a possible maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Finally, if convicted of smuggling goods into the U.S., Khattab could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and faces a possible maximum fine of $2.5 million.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter was investigated by HSI, FDA-OCI, U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), the Houston Police Department and the Chicago Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kebharu Smith of the Southern District of Texas and Senior Counsel John Zacharia of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.