Criminal Justice News

Monday, August 03, 2015

Four Men Charged with Trafficking in Pet Products with Counterfeit Labels



An indictment was recently unsealed in Houston charging four men with various offenses based on their roles in smuggling pet products with counterfeit labels into the United States.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas, Special Agent in Charge Catherine A. Hermsen of the Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) Kansas City, Missouri, Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Brian M. Moskowitz of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Houston Field Office made the announcement.

Iain Nigel MacKellar, 58, of England; Lam Ngoc Tran, aka Mark Tran, 40, of Fountain Valley, California; Allen Smith, 49, of Phoenix; and William Humphreys, 58, of Laguna Hills, California, were indicted on July 9, 2015.  They are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and trafficking in counterfeit labels, and smuggling goods into the United States.  Mackellar and Tran also are charged with additional counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, trafficking in counterfeit labels and smuggling.  The defendants were suspected members of one of the largest known groups of importers of counterfeit packaged pet products.

Smith turned himself in to authorities this morning and made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy.  Humphreys and Tran were taken into custody in Phoenix and in California, respectively.  Tran made his initial appearance in Houston on July 29, while Humphreys is set to appear tomorrow before Judge Milloy.  MacKellar is considered a fugitive and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest.

The indictment alleges the defendants smuggled veterinary products that were not manufactured for the U.S. market into the United States for distribution under false labels, including Frontline and Frontline Plus pesticides manufactured by Merial Pharmaceutical Company (Merial).  In some cases, the defendants allegedly imported the products into the U.S. under the pretense that the products were destined for use by charitable organizations, but instead distributed the products to large retail outlets for commercial sale, according to the indictment.

Merial did not participate in or authorize the alleged unlawful conduct.  All known counterfeit veterinary products have been removed from store shelves.

The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the FDA-OCI, HSI and the Environmental Protection Agency.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Deputy Chief John H. Zacharia of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer Lowery and Kebharu Smith of the Southern District of Texas.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California and the CCIPS Cybercrime Lab provided significant assistance.

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