Washington: Two Indian nationals have been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and launder drug proceeds, federal prosecutors have said. In the case, a New Jersey man has also pleaded guilty before a US District Court in Southern Illinois. The two Indian nationals are Aashish K Jain (37) and M Eshwar Rao. Moises A Sanabria (32) has admitted guilt to acting as a middleman between an India-based pharmaceutical distribution company and customers in the US.

According to court documents, Sanabria received pills containing furanyl fentanyl and tapentadol to New Jersey from the pharmaceutical drug distribution centre in India and then shipped orders directly to US customers between January 2018 and March 2021.

The prosecutors said that on multiple occasions, Sanabria shipped orders to undercover agents for the Drug Enforcement Administration working in the Southern District of Illinois.

Regulated federally under the Controlled Substances Act, furanyl fentanyl is on Schedule I and tapentadol is on Schedule II, they said.

Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Rehg, head of Drug Enforcement Administration enforcement operations in southern Illinois, said, “This man fooling people into thinking that pharmaceutical medications can be purchased without a prescription and mailed from India is not someone to buy anything from.” “Laundering his illegal proceeds back to India is just another example of how these international criminal organisations illegally profit off Americans,” Rehg said To exchange currency between the US and India for drug proceeds, Sanabria established a limited liability company based in New York to transfer money. The LLC held and concealed USD 114,334 in drug proceeds from January to October 2021, the Department of Justice said.

Money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and distribution of a controlled substance are all punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.