Houston:  A Pakistani national has been convicted by a US court for running an international drug trafficking scheme and committing money laundering crimes that he carried out with his partners based in countries like India and Pakistan.

Aijaz Sarfraz, a resident of Karachi, who was arrested in 2012, has been found guilty of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute controlled substances and international money laundering crimes.

A Texas court convicted him last week for his role in illegally importing and distributing millions of counterfeit pills throughout the US.

Sarfraz, 49, was found guilty on two charges, conspiracy to manufacture and distribute controlled substances and an international money laundering conspiracy, according to officials with the US Attorney's Office.

 US Magistrate Judge Don Bush yesterday granted a preliminary order of forfeiture, awarding the government more than $38.9 million based on a portion of the proceeds earned through the illegal venture between 2009 and 2012.

He faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each of the two charges. A sentencing date has not been set.

According to information presented in court, Sarfraz and his co-conspirators operated numerous illegal websites through which they distributed millions of illicit controlled substances to Internet customers throughout the United States.

Those pills included popular prescription medications as OxyContin, Percocet, Adderall, Ritalin, Hydrocodone, Xanax, Valium, Ambien among others.

The counterfeit drugs were generally manufactured in China, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Pakistan and Hong Kong.

The pills, which were made to look like authentic prescription medications approved for use in the US when validly prescribed by a physician, often contained incorrect active pharmaceutical ingredients or the wrong quantity and dosage strength of those substances.

No physicians or medical professionals of any kind were involved at any stage of the drug distribution process. Anyone with access to the Internet, a credit card and a physical mailing address could order drugs from the criminal organisation without a prescription or limits on quantity desired.

According to Justice Department key members of the group operated in Pakistan, India, the United Arab Emirates, and other foreign countries.

Bulk pill shipments containing 25,000 to 50,000 or more pills at a time were shipped to ground operatives living in the US, who would re-ship the pills to co-conspirators operating in other parts of the country and fulfil Internet drug orders by drop-shipping individual pill bottles to Internet customers.

Evidence presented at trial established that the drug trafficking organisation was capable of distributing upwards of 1 million pills or more per month on an average.

This is believed to be one of the largest cases of its kind ever prosecuted in the United States in terms of pill quantities involved.

Sarfraz and other conspirators also caused money to be moved back into the US through foreign banks and shell companies for the purpose of funding US operations by, for example, purchasing bulk pill bottles, postage and other shipping supplies, as well as paying ground operatives.
It is estimated that the criminal enterprise may have generated as much as $100 million or more in proceeds between 2009 and 2012, the Justice Department said.