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Intellectual Property Rights

Houston-based Pakistani man arrested and charged with trafficking counterfeit pharmaceuticals

HOUSTON — A Pakistani man residing in Houston was arrested Tuesday following the return of a seven-count indictment involving counterfeit Viagra® and Cialis® products, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

This joint investigation is being conducted by U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI).

Mohammad Jamal Rashid, 45, a U.S. permanent resident, was indicted Sept. 12. The sealed indictment was unsealed Sept. 24 after his arrest by HSI special agents. Rashid made his initial appearance Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Wm. Smith; he was released after posting bond.

"This arrest is the culmination of a multi-agency effort to prevent counterfeit pharmaceuticals from being smuggled and distributed across international borders," said Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. "This arrest is a reminder to those who chose to engage in illegal activity and endanger the public that HSI will use all of its resources to identify, investigative and dismantle these criminal networks wherever they operate."

"Today's arrest demonstrates the continued commitment by the FDA-OCI and its law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those allegedly involved in the sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals," said Patrick Holland, special agent in charge of FDA-OCI's Kansas City Field Office. "Those ultimately convicted of such crimes are often motivated by greed and prey upon an unsuspecting public with no regard for public safety."

The indictment charges Rashid with conspiracy, trafficking in counterfeit and misbranded Viagra® and Cialis® pills, introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, and smuggling.

Rashid allegedly conspired with others to import counterfeit and misbranded Viagra® and Cialis® pharmaceutical drugs to his home in Houston. The indictment alleges Rashid received a package containing about 3,200 counterfeit Viagra® and about 4,000 counterfeit Cialis® pills. According to the indictment, on Jan 26, 2012, Rashid accepted delivery and took possession of a package containing the counterfeit drugs, which were addressed to Rashid's home under another person's name. The indictment further alleges Rashid delivered a package of counterfeit drugs to another individual on that same day.

The possible punishment for a conviction of trafficking in counterfeit goods is up to 10 years in prison and a fine of not more than $2 million. He further faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of smuggling as well as another five years and $250,000 fine for the conspiracy, upon conviction. For introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, the possible punishment is up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Julie Redlinger, U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.