Operation Cyber-Roid Snares Illegal Internet Pharmacy
OCT 26 -- (Chicago) – Gary G. Olenkiewicz, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, along with Patrick Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, Michael E. Cleary, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, and Byram W. Tichenor, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago, announced the arrest of five defendants in two separate criminal cases involving illegal distribution of prescription drugs and anabolic steroids over the internet.
The DEA, along with the FDA and IRS began the investigation in 2005 following a complaint from a Massachusetts man that his son had used his credit card without permission to purchase anabolic steroids over the Internet from PMeds.com.
“For too long a virtual medicine cabinet has been open on the Internet with cyber drug dealers illegally doling out prescription medications. Today we closed shop on one of these rogue Internet pharmacies,” Mr. Olenkiewicz said. “Operation Cyber-Roid was successful due to the cooperative efforts of our partners at the FDA, IRS, and the United States Attorney’s Office. The DEA will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to put an end to the diversion of controlled substances.”
Mr. Cleary said: “This investigation again demonstrates the commitment of FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations to aggressively pursue, with the cooperation of our law enforcement partners like the DEA and IRS, the illegal distribution of prescription drugs over the Internet by those who greedily place the health and safety of U.S. consumers at risk to line their pockets.”
Six defendants were charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, including anabolic steroids, through the website PMeds.com. Gary Calow of Metepec, Mexico, his brother, Larry Calow, of Tinley Park, Illinois, and Ricky Boros also known as Vince Kwiatkowski of Oak Brook, Illinois, formed the Internet pharmacy business PurchaseMeds, Inc., and the website PMeds.com to sell prescription drugs online. According to the criminal complaint, beginning in January 2003, the website took orders from the Calow residence in Tinley Park, forwarded the orders to a site in Metepec, Mexico, and then smuggled anabolic steroids and other controlled substances into the United States for shipment to customers. PMeds also allegedly utilized commercial carriers to ship steroids concealed in electronic equipment and women’s shoes into the United States. Another defendant, Sergio Oliveira of Hoschton, Georgia, supplied PMeds with steroids and other controlled substances from his business in Belize. In return, Gary Calow wire transferred at least $198,703 to Oliveira’s companies between November 12, 2003 and March 23, 2006, for payment of controlled substances and prescription drugs. The complaint further alleges that Randy Soderlund of Tinley Park and Larry Calow’s daughter, Beth Calow, of Hobart, Indiana, processed Internet drug orders at the Tinley Park residence.
Also charged in the conspiracy is Garishkumar Ray, also known as Garish Ray of Glenview, Illinois, who is charged together with Sam Soans, of India, in a related criminal complaint. Ray and Soans are charged with conspiracy to distribute prescription drugs other than for a legitimate medical purpose. In addition, Ray and Soans were charged with obtaining and dispensing controlled substances with a fictitious or expired DEA registration number. Ray is the CEO and president of Dawn National Pharmacy (DNP) and Soans is the marketing manager of the website dnrxpharmacy.com. On occasion, DNP filled drug orders for the Calow brothers, who operated the PMEds website. DEA records show that DNP obtained 101,600 dosage units of hydrocodone, the generic name for Vicodine, between January and October 2006, without a valid DEA registration number. Ray and Soans regularly dispensed controlled substances, including hydrocodone, over the Internet without a valid doctor’s prescription by utilizing doctors located in Puerto Rico to approve prescriptions without contact with patients.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew M. Schneider.
If convicted, the counts of conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids or other Schedule III controlled substances carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine. Ray and Soans face a maximum penalty of four years in prison on the charges of obtains and dispensing controlled substances with a fictitious or expired DEA registration number. The Court, however, would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed.