Criminal Justice News

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Smuggle and Traffic Counterfeit Viagra Tablets

A Texas man pleaded guilty today to conspiring to smuggle and to traffic in counterfeit and misbranded pharmaceuticals, including Viagra tablets, from China, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.

Nasif Baqla, 26, of Houston, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Nancy F. Atlas in the Southern District of Texas to one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, to introduce misbranded prescription drugs into interstate commerce and to import such goods contrary to U.S. law.

Baqla was indicted on Aug. 22, 2012, as were two other individuals – Jamal Khattab, 49, of Katy, Texas, and Fayez Al-Jabri, 45, of Chicago – in a separate, but related case.  Khattab and Al-Jabri each pleaded guilty on Dec. 3, 2013, and March 21, 2014, respectively, to the same conspiracy charge as Baqla, as well as trafficking in counterfeit goods and introducing counterfeit drugs into interstate commerce in violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

According to court documents, in July 2010, a package of counterfeit Viagra tablets was shipped from China to Houston, intended for Baqla and Khattab.   The package was intercepted by Customs and Border Protection officers.   Baqla claimed the pills were his and that he received them on behalf of a friend.  Although the tablets were marked with trademarks substantially indistinguishable from the genuine marking on a legitimate Viagra pill, the drugs in the package were counterfeit and misbranded.

This matter was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Food and Drug Administration - Office of Criminal Investigations, Diplomatic Security Service and police departments in Houston and Chicago.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Chief for Litigation John Zacharia of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kebharu Smith of the Southern District of Texas.

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