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States » West

US convicts Indian for illegal drug import

Nagpur, Jul 10 (UNI) The Western Pennsylvania Federal Court has convicted a Nagpur businessman of money laundering and conspiring to illegally import medicines into America, the US Department of Justice confirmed on Friday.
According to the US Department of Justice, the accused was identified as Jeetendra alias Jeetu Harish Belani (37), who was extradited to the US from the Czech Republic.
Chief Judge Mark Hornak of the Western Pennsylvania federal court sentenced Jeetendra to the time he has been in detention since his arrest in June, 2019 in the Czech Republic, which amounts to a sentence of 13 months.
The Court also slapped a whopping fine of USD 1,00,000, while adding his name to the supervision list for a three-year period.
Belani had admitted in court last December that to evade detection, he falsified customs declarations for the medicines that can only be sold with a doctor's prescription and had them sent to different addresses in small quantities, Federal Prosecutor Scott Brady said.
According to the prosecutor, Belani admitted that the drugs were imported to the US through his India-based company LeeHPL Ventures between 2015 and 2019, and had maintained a website for it.
The medicines smuggled included Tapentadol, a Schedule II drug, as well as Tramadol, Carisoprodol, and Modafinil, which are Schedule IV controlled substances, the lawyer said.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, Schedule II drugs "have a high potential for abuse, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence," while Schedule IV drugs "have a low potential for abuse relative to substances".
Belani also admitted that he conspired with two others, William Kulakevich and Julia Fees, between 2015 and mid-2017 to smuggle a drug known as Etizolam for re-sale through a website.
Etizolam is part of a class of drugs similar to benzodiazepines, which are often used to treat insomnia and anxiety and carry a potential for abuse and overdose, according to officials.
Belani further admitted to having money sent to his accounts in India and other countries leading to the money laundering charge, Mr Brady said, adding that he will be deported to India, after serving his term.
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