Eight defendants arrested for distributing millions of opioid pills from India
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Earlier today, a complaint was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging eight defendants, Ezhil Sezhian Kamaldoss, Harpreet Singh, Parthiban Narayanasamy, Baljeet Singh, Deepak Manchanda, Gulab Gulab, Mukul Chugh and Vikas M. Verma with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance containing Tramadol, a synthetic opioid. The defendants were arrested this morning, and their initial appearances are scheduled for this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom.
DEA New England Division Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle; Richard P. Donoghue, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Mark McCormack, special agent-in-charge, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Washington Field Office (FDA-OCI); Todd A. Wickerham, special agent-in-charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office (FBI); Philip R. Bartlett, inspector-in-charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS); John Eisert, special agent-in-charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Baltimore Field Office; Peter C. Fitzhugh, special agent-in-charge, HSI, New York Field Office; Troy Miller, director of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, New York Field Office (CBP) announced the charges.
Since approximately January 2018, law enforcement agents with FDA-OCI, USPIS, HSI, CBP, DEA, FBI and other agencies have been investigating the large-scale importation of misbranded controlled substances, including Tramadol, into the United States from India. As part of the defendants’ scheme, distributors in India shipped misbranded Tramadol and other drugs to individuals and entities in the United States through the U.S. mail and other commercial couriers. The defendants primarily operated out of a warehouse in Queens where they repackaged the pills and mailed them to customers throughout the United States. The defendants maintained daily ledgers detailing the names, addresses, pill size and pill amounts ordered by customers. During the course of the investigation, the defendants distributed millions of Tramadol pills.
Ezhil Sezhian Kamaldoss is also charged with money laundering.
“DEA is addressing the threat of opioids, both internationally and domestically. We prioritize our resources by identifying and targeting the world’s biggest and most powerful drug traffickers and their organizations,” said Boyle. “The diversion of prescription pain killers contribute to the widespread abuse of opioids which is a gateway to addiction and is devastating our communities. DEA will continue to collaborate with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who are fueling this epidemic.”
“As alleged, the defendants participated in a black market for prescription medications by distributing millions of opioid pills in tens of thousands of transactions in one year alone,” said Donoghue. “This Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute those who profit from the suffering wrought by opioid distribution in the United States. Mr. Donoghue expressed his appreciation to the United States Attorneys’ Offices for the District of Maryland, the District of Massachusetts and the Southern District of Ohio for their assistance in the case."
“The illegal manufacture and distribution of opioids can result in overdoses and deaths, further fueling the national crisis,” said FDA Special Agent-in-Charge McCormack. “The FDA is committed to disrupting and dismantling illegal prescription drug distribution networks, including those that import unapproved drugs from overseas, and distribute those drugs with reckless disregard of the risk to public health.”
“The importation of mislabeled drugs is both dangerous and illegal,” stated FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Wickerham. “It contributes to the ongoing opioid crisis in our nation and causes harm to our communities.”
“Postal Inspectors are always at the forefront in protecting communities from the scourge of illegal drugs, no matter how they enter this country, and today’s arrests are a shining example of our commitment to keep the public safe,” stated USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Bartlett.
“These individuals chose greed and profit at the cost of human lives. HSI is committed to investigating and ending these kinds of drug trafficking schemes to keep opioids off our streets,” said HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Eisert.
“American communities continue to be plagued by synthetic opioids, often at the hands of dealers like those accused in this investigation,” said HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh. “HSI is committed to aggressively targeting every level of the opioid supply chain, from the overseas vendors to the street-level dealers, in an effort to end this crisis.”
“This case serves as a great example of collaborative law enforcement efforts to combat international opioid trafficking conspirators. U.S. Customs and Border Protection thanks our partners at FBI, FDA, USPIS, HSI and DEA for their continued cooperation,” said CBP Director of Field Operations Miller.
The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Ezhil Sezhian Kamaldoss faces up to 25 year's imprisonment. The remaining defendants each face up to five year's imprisonment.
MUKUL CHUGH Age: 24 Long Island City, New York
GULAB GULAB Age: 45 Richmond Hill, New York
EZHIL SEZHIAN KAMALDOSS (also known as Kamaldoss Sezhian,” “Kamal Doss” and “Ezhil Cezhian”) Age: 46 Richmond Hill, New York
DEEPAK MANCHANDA Age: 43 Deer Park, New York
PARTHIBAN NARAYANASAMY (also known as “Pat”) Age: 58 Jamaica, New York
BALJEET SINGH (also known as “Sunny”) Age: 29 Richmond Hill, New York
HARPREET SINGH (also known as “Vicky Singh”) Age: 28 Plainview, New York
VIKAS M. VERMA Age: 45 Dix Hills, New York