Doctor gets 30 years in Internet pharmacy ring
Akhil Bansal created and operated a network that smuggled 11 million prescription pills from India and distributed them to 60,000 Americans.india Updated: Dec 16, 2007 10:51 IST
An Indian doctor studying for an MBA degree was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison for orchestrating a global illegal Internet pharmacy network from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Akhil Bansal, enrolled at Temple University, created and operated a network that smuggled 11 million prescription pills from India and distributed them to 60,000 Americans.
"You distributed poison throughout the country," US district judge Paul Diamond said pronouncing the sentence.
But Bansal maintained his innocence. "Truly in my heart, I believe I did not commit these serious charges," he said, adding that he will appeal.
Bansal and his family operated a wholesale network, supplying dozens of illegal online drugs including Viagra, sedatives and painkillers without a prescription. By shipping 75,000 pills a day from a New York safe house, the Bansals reaped roughly $8 million.
After investigations that began in 2003, 17 synchronised arrests were made in April 2005 in Philadelphia, New York, Florida and India, where Bansal's father and sister, Brij Bansal and Julie Agarwal, were arrested.
Most of those arrested, including Bansal's roommate Atul Patil, struck plea deals and received sentences of less than three years.
But Bansal, arguing that what he did was legal in India, and two others, risked trial. All three were convicted after two-month trials.
Sanjeev Srivastav, Bansal's loyal friend and mentor since medical school in India, was sentenced to 15 years for his role in the conspiracy. Fred Mullinix of Florida, who made more than $1 million creating websites that took orders and forwarded them to the Bansals, was sentenced to 12 years.