Sherman Jury Finds Pakistani National Guilty of International Drug Conspiracy and Money Laundering Crimes
SHERMAN — A 49-year-old man from Karachi, Pakistan, has been found guilty of being a member of a large-scale drug trafficking organization responsible for illegally importing and distributing millions of counterfeit, adulterated, and misbranded pills in the Eastern District of Texas and throughout the United States, U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced.
On May 14, 2015, a federal jury in Sherman, Texas, convicted Muhammad Aijaz Sarfraz of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute controlled substances and international money laundering conspiracy following a four-day trial before U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant. Today, the Court entered a Preliminary Order of Forfeiture against Sarfraz, awarding the government a $38,967,372 money judgment based on a portion of the drug proceeds generated by the criminal enterprise.
According to information presented in court, from approximately March 2009 until Sarfraz’s arrest in April 2012, Sarfraz and his co-conspirators operated numerous illegal websites through which they distributed millions of illicit Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances to Internet customers throughout the United States. Those pills included such popular prescription medications as OxyContin, Percocet, Adderall, Ritalin, Hydrocodone, Xanax, Valium, Ambien, and others. The counterfeit drugs were generally manufactured in China, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, and Hong Kong. The pills, which were made to look like authentic prescription medications approved for use in the U.S. when validly prescribed by a physician, often contained incorrect active pharmaceutical ingredients or the wrong quantity and dosage strength of those substances. No physicians or medical professionals of any kind were involved at any stage of the drug distribution process. Anyone with access to the Internet, a credit card and a physical mailing address could order drugs from this criminal organization without a prescription or limits on quantity desired.
Key members of the group operated in Pakistan, India, the United Arab Emirates, and other foreign countries. Bulk pill shipments containing 25,000 to 50,000 or more pills at a time were shipped to ground operatives living in the U.S., who would re-ship the pills to co-conspirators operating in other parts of the country and fulfill Internet drug orders by drop-shipping individual pill bottles to Internet customers. Evidence presented at trial established that the drug trafficking organization was capable of distributing upwards of 1 million pills or more per month on average. This is believed to be one of the largest cases of its kind ever prosecuted in the United States in terms of pill quantities involved.
The criminal enterprise laundered money by moving drug proceeds from the United States to various foreign countries for the purpose of promoting the unlawful drug operation. Sarfraz and other conspirators also caused money to be moved back into the U.S. through foreign banks and shell companies for the purpose of funding U.S. operations by, for example, purchasing bulk pill bottles, postage and other shipping supplies, as well as paying ground operatives. It is estimated that the criminal enterprise may have generated as much as $100 million or more in proceeds between 2009 and 2012.
Several low-level ground operatives have been successfully prosecuted in the Eastern District of Texas and elsewhere over the past three years, but Sarfraz is the first upper-level member of the group to be apprehended and prosecuted. Sarfraz faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each of the two drug conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy charges for which he was convicted. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations Division, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stevan Buys and Will Tatum.