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Press Release

Man Admits Operating India-Based Web Pharmacy that Sold Misbranded Rx Drugs to U.S. Consumers

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH - A resident of India pleaded guilty today to charges in a third superseding indictment in Pittsburgh, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Zuned Sunesra, 36, of Mumbai, India, pled guilty before the Honorable Cathy Bissoon to charges of conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to information presented to the Court, from November 2005 to August 2014, defendant Zuned Sunesra, and his coconspirators Javed Sunesra, Bismilla Sunesra and Samir Taslimant operated pharmacy websites based out of India called the Network. From these websites, the Sunesras, aided and abetted by others, conspired to distribute unapproved and misbranded prescription drugs into the United States without a prescription. These prescription drugs included “standard” prescription drugs as well as Schedule IV and V controlled substances commonly known as Soma, Darvocet, Meridia, Provigil, and Lyrica which were imported into the United States from India. Many of the sales of these drugs were done without requiring a patient prescription, were done without adequate directions for use and were supplied from unlicensed pharmacies in India.

In addition, the defendant, acting together with others, deceived customers of by claiming that the drugs sold were FDA approved and were similar to drugs sold in the United States when in fact that was not true. The defendant and his conspirators then laundered the money from the illegal sales by funneling the proceeds of these drug sales from the United States eventually being deposited in bank accounts in the Republic of Mauritius and Dubai.

"The FDA-regulated supply chain for medicines helps protect consumers from prescription drugs that could be harmful or unsafe for them to use. When criminals open the access to prescription drugs online without legitimate supervision of physicians, they place the public health at risk and gamble with the health of those who unknowingly order unauthorized medicines online," said Glen A. McElravy, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Metro Washington Field Office, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations. "We will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to bring such criminals to justice."

“From coast to coast and beyond, the IRS will take every step necessary to ferret out those who attempt to use the financial system to circumvent the law while reaping the benefits of their illegal activity”, stated Edward Wirth, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Field Office of IRS Criminal Investigation. “This joint effort with the FDA-Office of Criminal Investigations continues to demonstrate our efforts to ensure that the financial services industry will not be used for personal financial gain and will be operated in a fair and honest manner to promote the public interest. Our agencies strive to protect the American public from those who attempt to illegally exploit them.”

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain of the defendants, or both. 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.

Defendant Zuned Sunesra is currently being held without bond.

Assistant United States Attorneys Conor J. Lamb and Jonathan B. Ortiz are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Food and Drug Administration - Office of Criminal Investigation, through Special Agent Sean Grillo, and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, through Special Agent Neal Bandzak, conducted the joint investigation that led to the conviction in this case.

Updated February 18, 2016

Drug Trafficking