The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported today the successful conclusion of an international operation to arrest two illegal prescription drug sellers. The individuals tried to smuggle illicit cancer drugs into the U.S. Two Turkish citizens, Ozkan Semizoglu and Sabahaddin Akman, were arrested in Puerto Rico after a grand jury sitting for the Eastern District of Missouri formally announced an indictment against the two men last January. Semizoglu and Akman were arraigned for charges of smuggling adulterated and misbranded prescription drugs of Turkish origins, among others, into the United States. The two were also accused of conspiracy to defraud the FDA since the drugs fell below the federal agency’s standards and have not been approved for distribution in the U.S.
The defendants used misleading shipping labels to mask the illegal nature of their cargo and made false custom declarations about the shipments. This included describing the contents as documents, gifts, or product samples with no or low declared monetary value. The two also divided large drug shipments into smaller packages in an attempt to avoid seizure by the U.S. customs and Border Protection officials.
John Roth, director of the Office of Criminal Investigations in the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs said, “This case shows that those who prey on innocent patients in the United States, even from outside our borders, are subject to criminal prosecution. The assistance of our international partners was critical in carrying out the undercover operation that led to the arrest of these individuals.”
The FDA and Europol worked with several German government offices as well as U.S. security branches in Turkey to successfully carry out the undercover operation that led to the arrest of the two men. The court charged the defendants with one count of conspiracy and three counts of smuggling illegal drugs into the U.S. If proven guilty, the men could face maximum penalty of 20 years prison and/or $250,000 in fines for each smuggling charge.