FEB 20 (SACRAMENTO, Calif.) —Shiraz Malik, 36, a Pakistani national residing in Warsaw, Poland, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton to 15 years in prison for conspiring to distribute controlled substances and listed chemicals, conspiring to import controlled substances and ephedrine into the United States, and conspiring to launder money.
According to court documents, from June 1, 2008, through September 8, 2011, Malik sold pharmaceuticals and highly regulated chemicals to customers in the United States, Europe, Mexico, and other countries and conspired to launder the profits of that activity. Malik took orders from customers via the Internet and coordinated with people in Pakistan to fill the orders. The drugs were sent from Pakistan to the customers, and Malik emailed the tracking numbers that his co-conspirators in Pakistan gave him to the customers. Malik sold large quantities of ephedrine to customers in Mexico, the country of origin for most of the methamphetamine sold in the United States.
In May 2008, DEA agents learned of two business-to-business Internet websites where businesses were offering to sell and illegally import into the United States pharmaceutical drugs, such as OxyContin, that are controlled substances under U.S. law, and regulated chemicals, such as ephedrine HCL, which is a precursor chemical used to manufacture methamphetamine. Two businesses that were offering controlled substances through the websites were Shama Medical Store in Karachi, Pakistan and Good Luck Trading Company in the United Kingdom. Both businesses referred customers to email addresses associated with Malik.
According to court documents, in the course of the three-year investigation, agents made eight undercover purchases of various drugs from Malik that were shipped from a post office in Lahore, Pakistan to addresses in the Sacramento area. In each instance, the purchase request was sent to Malik via email and payment instructions were sent by Malik to the undercover agent. Malik maintained at least two bank accounts in Poland that he used to receive payments for Internet drug purchases from undercover agents.
According to documents filed in the case, undercover agents met with Malik on three separate occasions in Milan, Italy (June 2009), Vienna, Austria (November 2009), and in Budapest, Hungary (August 2010). During those meetings, with the cooperation of law enforcement officials in the host countries, the agents posed as U.S.-based illegal drug dealers and had discussions with Malik about future purchases and possible collaborative efforts. In the meetings, Malik explained that his operation sold a variety of pharmaceutical and controlled substances including: steroids, OxyContin, ketamine, diazepam, lidocaine, illegal drugs including heroin from Pakistan, Ecstasy from Holland, methamphetamine (believed to be made in the Czech Republic), and ephedrine from India or China.
“Mr. Malik operated an international supermarket for illegal drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner. “As the Internet allows everyone access to international markets, federal law enforcement officials will be vigilant in protecting this country from overseas predators who profit off the addiction of others. Here, the defendant supplied addictive drugs, including oxycontin and heroin, to other drug traffickers in the U.S. and around the world, and supplied materials needed to make methamphetamine to clandestine producers in Mexico and Africa. Malik had never set foot in this country before he was arrested and extradited here on these charges. This should serve as a lesson to those drug traffickers who ship illegal drugs into the United States and who think they are untouchable.”
Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Jay Fitzpatrick stated, “Shiraz Malik led an elaborate international drug trafficking network using the anonymity of the Internet to distribute dangerous controlled substances, pharmaceutical narcotics, and substances for illicit drug manufacture to customers around the world. The outstanding assistance and support DEA received from our foreign and domestic counterparts led to the successful prosecution of Malik. This sentencing sends a clear message that law enforcement will work across international borders to seek justice against criminal organizations.”
“Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of this crime,” said José M. Martínez, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “The defendant used sophisticated methods to move large quantities of drug money around the world. CI is committed to following the money to financially disrupt and dismantle narcotics trafficking organizations.”
“This sentence is entirely fitting given the serious health risks associated with this defendant’s criminal activities,” said Dan Lane, assistant special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Sacramento. “The illegal sale of controlled substances and prescription drugs over the Internet represents a major safety threat for consumers who buy medications online. HSI will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners here and overseas to identify and dismantle highly dangerous schemes such as this one.”
Malik was arrested at the Prague International Airport on September 8, 2011, and was extradited on June 22, 2012, from the Czech Republic to the United States. He pleaded guilty to the conspiracy counts on October 7, 2013.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard J. Bender and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel S. McConkie prosecuted the case with the assistance of attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice’s: Office of International Affairs, the Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Section, and the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force Section.This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. The OCDETF program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of OCDETF is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.