FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 21, 2005
Contact: DEA Public Affairs
DEA Disables Major Pharmaceutical Internet Scheme
New “Virtual Enforcement Initiative” Announced
SEP 21--(Washington, D.C.)- In Dallas, Texas, today Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Karen P. Tandy announced the culmination of Operation CYBERx, a multi-faceted Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation targeting major alleged pharmaceutical drug traffickers operating solely in the United States.
Recognizing that criminals are facilitating more drug-related crimes through the use of 21st century technology, the DEA, along with their law enforcement counterparts today arrested 18 people for allegedly selling pharmaceutical drugs illegally over the Internet. Those arrested include the ringleaders of more than 4,600 rogue Internet pharmacy websites.
This DEA-led investigative effort is the first to target e-trafficking located solely within the United States. The alleged drug dealers who operated these rogue internet pharmacies received prescription orders for controlled substances over the Internet, which were then shipped to the doors of many U.S. citizens-sometimes without any prescription needed. These alleged criminal pharmaceutical drug traffickers averaged more than $50,000 a day in profits from their illegal Internet based enterprise.
Today’s arrests included Johar Saran, of Arlington, TX; Gaston Blanchet and Gil Lozano, of Miami, FL; S. Ted Solomon, of Orlando, FL; and Steve Rosner, of Boca Raton, FL. These individuals are the alleged ringleaders of this multi-million dollar drug distribution network.
Operation CYBERx is part of the DEA’s “Virtual Enforcement Initiative (VEI).” This new DEA cyber initiative acknowledges that criminals in the drug trade are embracing the use of 21st century technology to peddle their poisons into U.S. communities.
DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy said, “Operation CYBERx puts out of business alleged cyber criminals who were selling powerful narcotics without legitimate prescriptions to anyone with a computer and cash. These high-tech drug dealers were fueling addictions by selling the very drugs intended to prevent and treat ailments—not inflict them. Just as important, this Operation makes more Americans aware that buying prescription drugs from these rogue websites is illegal and dangerous.”
E-based illegal pharmacies allow abusers to easily access pharmaceutical drugs from the comfort of their homes. Without a doctor’s visit, sometimes without a prescription, without consulting with a pharmacist, any drug abuser with enough cash could have almost any quantity of prescription drugs-with door to door delivery. With DEA-led efforts under the VEI, e-traffickers will find difficulty in luring our nations youth to their on-line pharmacies for easy access to drugs.
The VEI concept was realized last April when DEA led Operation “Cyber Chase,” which resulted in more than 20 arrests in eight U.S. cities and four foreign countries; shutting down an organization that ran over 200 web sites illegally selling what were identified as pharmaceutical drugs. This year-long OCDETF investigation targeted international Internet pharmaceutical traffickers operating in the United States, India, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. These e-traffickers also distributed drugs world-wide using rogue Internet pharmacies.
In January 2005, DEA launched a toll-free international hotline (1-877-RX-ABUSE) for anonymous reporting of the illegal sale and abuse of controlled substances.
In addition to the 18 individuals arrested as part of Operation CYBERx, seven luxury cars, 2,400 checks and money orders from individual customers, and several boxes of cash were seized."