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Intellectual Property Rights

Chinese counterfeit drug distributor sentenced in absentia to nearly 3 years

HOUSTON - A Chinese national, who fled the country after a jury convicted him of trafficking in counterfeit pharmaceuticals, was sentenced last week in absentia to two years and nine months in federal prison. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigation, CBP, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

En Wang, 32, the owner of Jiao Long USAO Inc., a Houston-based company, was sentenced on March 28 in absentia by U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa Gilmore to 33 months in federal prison without parole. At the sentencing hearing, Judge Gilmore proceeded with sentencing despite Wang's absence stating Wang had waived his right to be present by intentionally fleeing the United States. In addition to the prison term, Wang was also ordered to serve a three-year-term of supervised released after his prison term. The court postponed ruling on whether to order restitution to Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Viagra.

Wang, a Chinese national, was convicted by jury on Sept. 2, 2010 of conspiring to traffic counterfeit and misbranded pharmaceutical drugs. Shortly after the trial, Wang, who had been free on bond, fled the country. An investigation into his disappearance by ICE HSI agents determined that Wang left the U.S. on Sept. 18, 2010 by flying to Mexico. From there, he flew to China.

After a jury trial, Wang was convicted of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit drugs and causing the introduction of counterfeit and misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. The four-count indictment filed against Wang in February 2010 charged him with conspiring with others in the People's Republic of China to traffic in counterfeit goods and trafficking in counterfeit and misbranded pharmaceuticals. During the two-day trial, the jury heard evidence that two packages containing about 6,500 loose Viagra tablets were seized at a mail facility in San Francisco, Calif., in early January 2010. The loose Viagra tablets were in plastic bags and hidden inside a shoe box and a small box. The tablets did not have any prescription form inside or any instructions for use. The labeling affixed to the packages indicated they were being sent to a Ken Wang in the 12000 block of Ashford Chase Drive in Houston.

An ICE HSI agent testified during the trial that he had been notified of the seizure by an officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) assigned to the San Francisco mail facility. After performing several record checks for the name Ken Wang, the agent determined that a person named En Wang with the same Ashford Chase Drive address had recently returned to the United States on an international flight that originated from China. An inspection of Wang's luggage revealed he had a large number of Viagra tablets hidden in a calcium bottle. The agent testified he obtained a search warrant for Wang's residence and coordinated a controlled delivery of the two packages containing Viagra on Jan. 13, 2010. Wang signed for the delivered packages using the name Ken Wang. ICE HSI agents immediately executed a search warrant and found 300 additional loose Viagra tablets at the residence.

A chemist employed by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Inc., the manufacturer of Viagra, testified that the Viagra tablets in the two packages as well as the tablets found inside Wang's residence were counterfeit and contained a substance used to manufacture sheetrock. A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chemist further testified that the Viagra tablets contained less than the active ingredient listed for Viagra. Viagra is an FDA-approved prescription drug to treat erectile dysfunction.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samuel Louis and Andino Reynal, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.