Five Argentine Men Charged with Illegally Operating Online Pharmacies and Importing and Distributing Oxycodone
U.S. Attorney Matthew D. Krueger of the Eastern District of Wisconsin announced that three defendants were arrested in Buenos Aires, Argentina yesterday. These defendants are wanted in the United States to face charges in the Eastern District of Wisconsin for operating numerous illegal online pharmacies and conspiring to import and distribute illegal controlled substances, including Oxycodone, in the United States. The three defendants and two additional defendants were charged on October 10, 2018, in the Eastern District of Wisconsin by a superseding indictment, which had remained sealed until their arrest.
Conrado Adolfo Frenzel, aka “Otto” (age: 50), Jorge Alejandro Paura, aka “Larry” (age: 51), Santiago Videmato, aka “James Duggan” (age: 35), Luciano Brunetti, aka “Biff Tannen” (age: 30), and Lucas Daniel Paura, aka “Carl Carlson” (age: 31), all from Buenos Aires, Argentina, were charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including Oxycodone; illegally distributing controlled substances using the internet; illegal use of the internet to advertise the sale of controlled substances; conspiracy to import controlled substances, including Oxycodone; and multiple counts of illegal importation and attempted importation of controlled substances from Romania and another country to the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The charges of conspiracy, distribution, and importation each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The superseding indictment also includes a forfeiture allegation that identifies 28 residential real properties located in Florida.
Argentine authorities arrested Frenzel, Jorge Paura, and Videmato in Buenos Aires, on March 12, 2019, pursuant to requests for their provisional arrest from the United States. Authorities are pursuing the capture and arrest of Brunetti and Lucas Paura. The United States will seek to extradite these defendants to face the charges in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
“Combatting the opioid crisis and the illegal flow of prescription drugs requires international cooperation,” said U.S. Attorney Krueger. “We commend the outstanding work of the Argentine law enforcement agencies whose partnership with U.S. authorities made these arrests possible.”
“The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is committed to fight the opioid epidemic through aggressive domestic and international investigations,” said DEA Milwaukee District Office Special Agent in Charge Paul E. Maxwell, Jr. “Today’s arrests reflect the resolve and partnership of U.S. and Argentine law enforcement agencies to combat the transnational criminal activity which is fueling the opioid crisis.”
“IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) is committed to using our forensic accounting skills to assist in complex fraud and financial schemes,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Gabriel Grchan. “We are proud to work with our law enforcement partners to help investigate individuals, and to help put a stop to this and other types of illegal activity.”
“The indictments in this investigation are a direct result of the relentless efforts of a group of aggressive law enforcement officers from multiple agencies determined to keep the American public safe from illegal on-line ‘pharmacies,’” said Inspector in Charge Craig Goldberg of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Chicago Division. “The Postal Inspection Service will never stop fighting to keep consumers safe from these types of crimes and the devastating and sometimes deadly effects of the drugs purchased from these illegal pharmacies. International borders will not hide these criminals from federal law enforcement; they will be brought to justice no matter where they run their criminal enterprise.”
The charges and arrests resulted from a multi-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, DEA, IRS-CI, the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. United States authorities worked closely with Argentine law enforcement authorities, including the Argentina Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI), City of Buenos Aires Police Department, Argentina Attorney General’s Office-PROCUNAR, Ministry of Security for the Nation of Argentina and Ministry of Justice for the Nation of Argentina. The following federal agencies also participated in the operation: the FBI, U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura S. Kwaterski and Rebecca Taibleson of the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
The public is cautioned that an indictment is merely a charge and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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