International Smugglers Busted for Importing Illegal Prescription Cancer Treatments

Two Turkish nationals, Ozkan Semizoglu and Sabahaddin Akman, were arrested on charges that they smuggled adulterated and misbranded prescription cancer treatments into the U.S. in violation of federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards. The FDA and several law enforcement agencies from Germany and Turkey combined forces to arrest the pair after a grand jury indicted them on January 16, 2014. Semizoglu and Akman each face one count of conspiracy and three counts of smuggling illegal drugs. Each smuggling charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines of up to $250,000.


The indictment alleges that Semizoglu and Akman obtained the illicit drugs for distribution in the U.S. The drugs did not meet FDA standards, nor were they approved for distribution in the U.S. Semizoglu and Akman allegedly shipped the drugs in a manner that concealed the drugs’ illegal nature. According to the indictment, the two falsified information on customs declarations that described the content of the packages as gifts, documents or product samples that had no or low-declared monetary value. The two are also accused of repackaging large drug shipments into several smaller parcels to prevent detection and seizure by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.


Smuggling illegal prescription drugs into the U.S. happens quite often. In January 2012, the president of a Chicago corporation admitted that he smuggled illegal prescription medication from Mexico into the United States for further distribution to stores in Kentucky and elsewhere. Candelario Pelayo Garcia pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling goods, money laundering, delivery of smuggled goods in interstate commerce, wholesale distribution of prescription drugs in interstate commerce, and conspiracy. In December 2013, a Pennsylvania pharmacist’s wife was sentenced to probation and turned over $600,000 to the government following her conviction on federal prescription drug smuggling-related charges. Robin W. Simon unlawfully imported the anti-cancer drug Xeloda, which she obtained from suppliers in Portugal and Great Britain, and caused it to be dispensed to patients from the Stanton-Negley Pharmacy in Pittsburgh.