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Two NRIs- Brij Bhusan Bansal and Akhil Bansal with five members of the
Bansal family have been charged as international Internet drug ring.


PHILADELPHIA. April 21, 2005

The DEA closed a Philadelphia warehouse allegedly headed by Indian nationals Brij Bhusan Bansal and Akhil Bansal. Terry Riley, a DEA investigator in Washington, said the Bansals smuggled drugs mainly from India to the New York area, then repackaged them and shipped them to customers worldwide, filling orders from their network of Web operators. Web operators, who accounted for more than 200 sites.

"The Bansals were the kingpins," Riley said. "We estimate they distributed 2-million to 3-million pills per month."

Among the pills available through the illicit Web sites were prescription painkillers like Vicodin, anabolic steroids and amphetamines.

While legitimate Internet drug sites require a doctor's prescription and often offer savings to customers, the sites targeted by the DEA investigation did neither.

"People were paying inflated prices, 300 to 400 percent above the legitimate price. But these were people who didn't want to go to regular doctors," Riley said. "They also didn't know what they were getting, because the labels were often illegible and the strength was unknown."

There were 20 arrests in eight US cities and four foreign countries. Domestically, arrests occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Ft Lauderdale and Sarasota, Florida; Abilene and Tyler, Texas; New York, NY; Greenville, SC; and Rochester, New York. Internationally, arrests were made in San Jose, Costa Rica; New Delhi, Agra, and Mumbai.

The investigation included agents from the FBI, U.S. Customs Service, Internal Revenue Service, Food and Drug Administration and the Postal Service.

Web operators face up to 20 years in jail on charges including trafficking in controlled substances and money laundering.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of 41 bank accounts, 26 in the United States and the remainder in Cyprus, India, Singapore, the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, West Indies, Antigua and Ireland.

Illegal financial transactions listed in the indictment total more than $6-million with restitution sought for that amount.


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