Turkish man pleads guilty to smuggling counterfeit drugs

ST. LOUIS - The "foreign trade director" of a Turkish drug wholesaler pleaded guilty Tuesday to smuggling counterfeit and misbranded cancer treatment drugs into the United States, including multiple shipments of one drug sent from Turkey to Chesterfield, U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said.

According to court documents, Ozkan Semizoglu admitted to using shipping labels to conceal prescription drug shipments, including customs declarations falsifying the items being sent as "gifts," "documents," or "product samples," with no or low declared monetary values.

Semizoglu also took care to have larger drug shipments broken down into smaller packages so as to reduce the risk of seizure by U.S. Customs agents. In addition, he shipped some prescription drugs from Turkey to Missouri in such a way that failed to provide the constant cold temperatures needed to maintain their stability.

Semizoglu admitted to selling Altuzan (the Turkish version of Avastin) to Richard Taylor, a drug wholesaler in the United Kingdom. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigations seized Altuzan from several doctors and customers of Taylor in 2012. Authorities determined the drugs in this instance were counterfeit.

The FDA-OCI's ongoing investigation has led to a number of related prosecutions in the Eastern District of Missouri, including Dr. Abid Misar, Sandra Behe, James Newcomb, Richard Taylor, Dr. Erick Falconer, Greg Martin, Kamaldeep Sandhu, and Navdeep Sandhu.

Semizoglu is scheduled to be sentenced on October 28.


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