News and Press Releases

two turkish nationals indicted for smuggling counterfeit cancer drug

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2014

St. Louis, MO - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri announced that OZKAN SEMIZOGLU and SABAHADDIN AKMAN, both from Turkey, have been charged with obtaining unapproved, misbranded, adulterated and counterfeit cancer treatment prescription drugs from Turkey and other foreign countries and smuggling the drugs into the United States, including three shipments sent from Turkey to Chesterfield, Missouri.

According to the indictment, which was filed this morning in St. Louis, Missouri, the defendants used shipping labels that concealed the illegal nature of the prescription drug shipments, including customs declarations falsely describing the contents as "gifts" or "documents" or “product sample” with no or low declared monetary values.  Defendants also ensured that large drug shipments were broken into several smaller packages to reduce the likelihood of seizures by U.S. Customs authorities and the corresponding loss of expensive drug shipments.  Additionally, the indictment states that the defendants shipped some prescription drugs requiring constant cold temperatures to maintain their stability and effectiveness in shipping boxes without insulation or any temperature protection whatsoever.  Given the length of time required to ship products from Turkey to the United States, defendants were aware that on many occasions their packages of their prescription drugs arrived in the United States at temperatures outside the constant cold temperature range discussed on the drugs’ labeling.

Semizoglu and Sabhaddin Akman, both of Instanbul, Turkey, were charged by indictment by a federal grand jury with one felony count of conspiracy to smuggle merchandise into the United States and three counts of smuggling. Both were arrested this morning in Puerto Rico.

If convicted, each count of smuggling carries a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.  In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

This case was investigated by the United States Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, with assistance from the United States Marshal’s Service, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Johnson County Crime Lab of Olathe, Kansas, and the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of Missouri and the District of Puerto Rico.  

As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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