Massachusetts Man Guilty of Drug Importation
In a federal court in Springfield, Massachusetts, a Palmer man pleaded guilty to his role in illegally importing controlled substances for a Pakistani drug company. According to court documents, 64-year-old Harry Aliengena ordered thousands of drugs from overseas and redistributed them to the company’s so-called customers.
Aliengena pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import controlled substances, two counts of felony importation of misbranded drugs with fraudulent intent, and one count of misdemeanor drug importation. U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. scheduled Aliengena to be sentenced in February 2018.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated the case. FDA officers found that the Springfield man worked as a “middleman” for a Pakistani “online pharmacy” between July 2011 and June 2012. During that time, Aliengena had ordered subsequently distributed Oxycodone, Methylphenidate, Hydrocodone, Mixed Amphetamine Salts, and age Temazepam. The drug company in Pakistan operated under the brand “Shop Your Meds.” They used the now-defunct shopurmeds.com and buyonlinemedicines.blogspot.com for online sales. The first site streamlined a customer’s ability to purchase drugs directly through the site. The second, though, encouraged customers to email the company and place orders via private communications.
In order to fulfill on advertised claims of faster shipping than their “US competitors,” the company shipped products through Aliengena. They would send him packages and he would then turn around, repackage them into a container without his address, and ship them to the next customer who requested a certain medication. Shop Your Meds paid Aliengena for his involvement in the conspiracy through Western Union money orders and in supplies of drugs for personal use.
Aliengena “took orders from” an entity at “email@example.com.” Upon contact, Western Union money orders quickly changed hands. They shipped him packages of various controlled substances. Aliengena then received and signed for packages sent by the company. The operator(s) of the Shop Your Meds email addresses then sent the 64-year-old inductions regarding the intended recipient. And for the final step of the act, Aliengena mailed the packages to customers across the United States with fake names and return addresses. One email between the company and the middleman read, “ship 500 tablets of Restoril to a Shop Your Meds customer in Mesa, Arizona.”
The company then, with a different email address, emailed the US-based customer with information about their order. The following example and explanation came from the indictment:
“On April 14, 2012, Shop Your Meds, through the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org, sent an e-mail to its customer in Mesa, Arizona that, in return for the customer’s payment of $510, it had shipped 500 tablets of Restoril from within the United States and stated in the e-mail that “’we have only Restorils in our stock in US.’”
The company, though, had no US-based branches or qualified pharmacists. Aliengena faces a maximum of 20-years in jail for his role in the conspiracy. And a minimum of a slap on the wrist and no jail time. Only time will tell.