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International drug trafficker sentenced to 15 years in prison

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Pakistani national, who most recently resided in Poland, was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison for illegally selling large quantities of prescription drugs and other controlled substances over the Internet, including ephedrine and oxycontin.

Shiraz Malik, 36, of Warsaw, Poland, pleaded guilty last year to 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 Sept. 8, 2011, Malik sold pharmaceuticals and highly regulated chemicals to customers in the U.S., Europe and Mexico and conspired to launder the profits of his activity. He took orders from customers over the Internet and coordinated with co-conspirators in Pakistan to fill the orders. The drugs were sent from Pakistan to customers, and Malik emailed tracking numbers provided by the co-conspirators in Pakistan to his customers. Malik sold large quantities of ephedrine to buyers in Mexico, the country of origin for most of the methamphetamine sold in the U.S.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); 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 aided by 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.

In May 2008, agents with the DEA learned of two Internet websites where businesses were offering to sell and illegally import into the U.S. pharmaceutical drugs and regulated chemicals, such as oxycontin and ephedrine HCL. 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, undercover agents met with Malik on three separate occasions in Milan, Vienna and Budapest, Hungary, in 2009 and 2010. With the cooperation of local authorities, the agents posed as U.S.-based illegal drug dealers and discussed with Malik future purchases and possible collaborative efforts. In the meetings, Malik explained his operation sold a variety of substances including, steroids, oxycontin, ketamine, diazepam, lidocaine, as well as illegal drugs such as heroin, Ecstasy, methamphetamine and ephedrine.

"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."

DEA 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 Sept. 8, 2011. He was extradited to the U.S. in June 2012 from the Czech Republic.