Costa Rican Defendant Appears in Federal Court to Face Fraud Charges
PITTSBURGH – A resident of Costa Rica made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh this afternoon to face multiple charges involving conspiracy to import prescription drugs from India for distribution, without prescriptions, to consumers throughout the United States, Acting United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.
The five-count indictment, returned on October 13, 2015, charged Costa Rican Ramiro Navarro Quesada, 42, with three counts of mail fraud and one count each of conspiracy to misbrand and smuggle Schedule II and Schedule IV and erectile dysfunction drugs and money laundering. Quesada was arrested in Madrid, Spain, earlier this year. He was extradited to the United States yesterday.
According to the indictment, Quesada used a Costa Rican website to advertise the Internet sale of Schedule II and IV controlled substances and erectile dysfunction drugs, which were exported from India and received in the United States by co-defendants Sylvia and Miguel Cruz. The latter two then mailed the drugs to U.S. consumers who had ordered them through the Costa Rican website. The consumers were falsely led to believe that the drugs were “FDA approved,” that the counterfeit drugs were genuine Adderall and Viagra, and that it was legitimate to distribute such drugs without prescriptions.
"Ordering prescription drugs online from illegal websites can lead to dangerous consequences for U.S. consumers. Such websites, while they may look professional and legitimate, often sell drugs that have not been checked for safety or effectiveness," said Mark S. McCormack, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations' Metro Washington Field Office. "We will continue to pursue and bring to justice criminals who operate outside of FDA's oversight and place the public's health at risk."
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison on each of the mail fraud and money laundering counts, and 5 years on the conspiracy count; as well as a $250,000 fine on each count except money laundering, which carries a potential fine of $500,000. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Shardul Desai is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, the Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.