Arizona Man Sentenced for Misbranding and Smuggling Conspiracy Involving Online Sale and Distribution of Unapproved Drugs Obtained from Overseas
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A resident of Chino Valley, Arizona, was sentenced today in federal court for one count of conspiracy to smuggle misbranded drugs into the United States and introduce them into interstate commerce, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced.
United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab sentenced Jeremy Brooks, 31, to five years of probation, including 180 days of home detention. Brooks was also ordered to forfeit a total of approximately $106,000 that was previously seized during the investigation.
During his plea hearing on August 6, 2020, Brooks admitted that between January 2016 and May 8, 2018, he engaged in a conspiracy to obtain unapproved drugs in bulk quantities from overseas suppliers, including suppliers in China, for the purpose of pressing the drugs into pills and distributing them to customers throughout the United States via an internet-based business—Domestic RCS—that he and a co-conspirator, Justin Ash, controlled. The business’s website, www.domesticrcs.com, advertised multiple unapproved or "misbranded" drugs—clonazolam, diclazepam, flubromazolam, and etizolam—each of which was a non-prescription benzodiazepine or substance with a similar chemical composition. As Brooks further acknowledged, these substances carried risks of dependency, toxicity, and even fatal overdose, particularly when combined with other central nervous system depressants. Although the co-conspirators’ website and the packaging contained in their shipments indicated that the substances were for "research purposes only," Brooks admitted that he was aware that the vast majority of customers purchased the drugs for individual consumption. Indeed, Brooks, Ash, or others acting at their direction communicated directly with individual customers about, among other things, the effects of the drugs when used for personal consumption. In an effort to evade detection by United States federal authorities, including the United States Food and Drug Administration, United States Postal Inspection Service, and United States Customs and Border Protection, Brooks also admitted that he and Ash caused their overseas suppliers to ship drugs to multiple addresses under their control and in smaller quantities that would draw less government scrutiny.
On November 24, 2020, in a related case, Judge Schwab sentenced Ash to 24 months’ incarceration and ordered him to forfeit approximately $780,000 in connection with his role in the conspiracy.
Assistant United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan prosecuted this case on behalf of the government. The United States Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation leading to the conviction in this case.