Ozkan Semizoglu and Sabahaddin Akman of Turkey have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and FDA, as well as three counts of smuggling illegal cancer drugs into the United States. The pair were arraigned in Puerto Rico, after a grand jury sitting for the Eastern District of Missouri indicted the two men on Jan. 16.
Each smuggling charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines of up to $250,000.
According to a joint investigation between the Food and Drug Administration and Europol, the pair “obtained the illicit drugs and then used shipping labels to conceal the illegal nature of the shipments, including customs declarations falsely describing the contents as ‘gifts,’ ‘documents,’ or ‘“product samples’ with no or low-declared monetary values.”
In addition to Special agents of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service assigned to the U.S. Embassy’s Regional Security Office in Ankara, Turkey and the U.S. Consulate General’s Overseas Criminal Investigations Branch in Istanbul, as well as the Turkish government, itself, the operation involved the Bonn prosecutor ; the German Federal Criminal Police; the Dusseldorf Police and the German State Criminal Police.
“This case shows that those who prey on innocent patients in the United States, even from outside our borders, are subject to criminal prosecution,” said John Roth, director of the Office of Criminal Investigations in the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs. “The assistance of our international partners was critical in carrying out the undercover operation that led to the arrest of these individuals.”