Two Sentenced for Participating in Online Drug Distribution and Money Laundering Scheme
PITTSBURGH - One resident of India and one resident of Canada have been sentenced in federal court on convictions stemming from their roles in an online drug distribution and money laundering conspiracy, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon first sentenced Zuned Sunesra, of Mumbai, India, to a term of imprisonment of 30 months in prison, a term of supervised release of one year, and forfeiture of $1,200,000 to the United States. In a separate proceeding, Judge Bissoon sentenced Taimur Khan, of Surrey, British Columbia, to a term of imprisonment of time served.
According to information presented to the Court, Zuned Sunesra and Khan were members of a conspiracy operating a network of pharmacy websites, including emedoutlet.com. The network of websites was owned by Asian Capital Equities, of which Zuned Sunesra was the director and part owner. Zuned Sunesra was personally engaged in running certain aspects of the websites, which distributed unapproved and misbranded prescription drugs into the United States. The websites often required no prescription from customers, and the websites had no license to operate as online pharmacies under U.S. law. The websites also claimed that the drugs sold were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and were similar to drugs sold in the United States, when in fact that was not true. The drugs sold illegally included Schedule IV and V controlled substances containing the active ingredients of the drugs commonly known as Soma, Provigil, Darvocet, Darvocet-N, Meridia, and Lyrica.
Khan’s role was to set up a fake “gift card” company called “mygiftcard.biz,” the purpose of which was to convince credit card processors such as Visa and Mastercard that emedoutlet.com and its affiliate websites were selling gift cards instead of illegal medications. This was necessary because traditional credit card processors attempt to avoid conducting business with illegal enterprises, such as illegal online pharmacies. Khan’s company allowed customers of the pharmacy websites to use their credit cards to purchase gift cards, which appeared to be for merchants such as the Gap and JC Penny. However, rather than redeem the gift cards with these merchants, the customers immediately redeemed the gift cards at emedoutlet.com and the affiliate websites in exchange for illegal drugs. Zuned Sunesra was also directly involved in the processing of customers’ payments to the websites, as well the transfer of funds gained from the customers’ payments to accounts outside of the United States.
U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation for conducting the investigation in this case. Assistant United States Attorneys Eric Rosen, Jonathan Ortiz, and Conor Lamb prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.