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New Jersey man admits to conspiracy, mailing illicit pharmaceutical meds to U.S. customers

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – A New Jersey man admitted guilt in a U.S. District courtroom in southern Illinois Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, to acting as a middleman between an India-based pharmaceutical distribution company and customers in the United States.

Moises A. Sanabria, 32, of Bloomfield, New Jersey, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and one count of money laundering conspiracy.

“To help ensure safe consumption, pharmaceutical drugs must be prescribed by a licensed medical professional,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe. “This illicit narcotic operation was a threat to consumers, and I commend the investigators for interrupting this destructive chain.”

Indian nationals Aashish K. Jain, 37, and M. Eshwar Rao, 40 are named co-defendants also charged in the conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and launder drug proceeds. In addition, Jain is charged with one count of distribution of a controlled substance.

An indictment is merely a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.

According to court documents, Sanabria received pills containing furanyl fentanyl and tapentadol to New Jersey from the pharmaceutical drug distribution center in India and then shipped orders directly to U.S. customers between January 2018 and March 2021.

On multiple occasions, Sanabria shipped orders to undercover agents for the Drug Enforcement Administration working in the Southern District of Illinois. Regulated federally under the Controlled Substances Act, furanyl fentanyl is on Schedule I and tapentadol is on Schedule II.

“DEA often speaks of the international scope of the world of illicit drug trafficking,” said Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Rehg, head of Drug Enforcement Administration enforcement operations in southern Illinois. “This man fooling people into thinking that pharmaceutical medications can be purchased without a prescription and mailed from India is not someone to buy anything from. Laundering his illegal proceeds back to India is just another example of how these international criminal organizations illegally profit off Americans.”

To exchange currency between the U.S. and India for drug proceeds, Sanabria established a limited liability company based in New York to transfer money. The LLC held and concealed $114,334 in drug proceeds from January to October 2021.

“Since making money is the primary goal of a drug trafficking organization, the act of money

laundering is as important to them as the drug distribution itself,” said IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) Special Agent in Charge Thomas F. Murdock, St. Louis Field Office. “That’s one reason CI is proud to lend the expertise of our special agents to help bring those involved to justice.”

Money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and distribution of a controlled substance are all punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.

Agents with DEA and IRS CI contributed to the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Kapsak is prosecuting the case.

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