Three More Defendants Sentenced to Prison Terms in Multi-Million-Dollar Theft of Pre-Retail Medical Products
Three additional Miami-area residents were recently sentenced to prison terms in connection with violations of the Safe Doses Act, pursuant to provisions under Title 18, United States Code, Section 670, which prohibit theft of “pre-retail” medical products. A total of eight defendants have been convicted in connection with a cargo theft scheme.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Miami Field Office, and David W. Bourne, Special Agent in Charge, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigation (FDA-OCI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Jorge Nimer Rolo, 48, Lazaro Martinez, a/k/a “Fat Laz,” 45, and Antonio Ramirez, a/k/a “Tony Bodega,” 54, were recently sentenced to prison terms in connection with a scheme to steal pre-retail medical products, including more than $2.2 million worth of Mucinex cough medicine and $550,000 worth of Similac baby formula, as well as other merchandise.
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, as part of an organized theft ring, 44 pallets of Similac were stolen by the defendants and their co-conspirators from a distribution site in Fort Worth, Texas, and more than 18,000 cases of Mucinex were pilfered from a tractor-trailer truck in Richland, Mississippi. These pre-retail medical products, medical products that had not yet been made available for retail purchase by a consumer, were then transported by members of the cargo theft ring to South Florida, stored in various locations, and offered for sale to brokers and retailers in and around Miami-Dade County. The defendants worked together to sell and distribute the stolen cargo. The stolen products were originally intended for sale at Wal-Mart and Walgreens stores and other retailers in the Southeastern United States.
Nimer Rolo was a broker who financed a range of stolen cargo in South Florida and elsewhere, including stolen baby formula, computers and electronics, perfume, and women’s lingerie, valued at more than $2.3 million. Nimer Rolo was sentenced to 108 months’ imprisonment by U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard on May 29, 2015. Nimer Rolo previously pleaded guilty on March 18, 2015, to one count of conspiracy to receive and sell stolen goods valued at $5,000 or more, involving a pre-retail medical product, as well as one count of money laundering, involving a pre-retail medical product.
Martinez and Ramirez were brokers who obtained stolen product from others and sold portions of the stolen cargo. Martinez was a co-owner of Tadeo Supermarket in Miami where stolen cargo was sold, and he acted as a buyer and re-seller of stolen cargo with others, including Ramirez. Ramirez and Martinez pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola on March 3, 2015, to a one count information charging conspiracy to receive and sell stolen goods valued at $5,000 or more. Ramirez was sentenced by Judge Scola on May 27, 2015, to a total of 36 months’ imprisonment, including 24 months’ imprisonment in connection with this case and 12 months’ imprisonment for a supervised release violation. Martinez was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment on May 18, 2015.
Previously, Ivan Manuel Valle, 34, of Miami, Daniel Martinez Zamora, 45, of Homestead, Raul Nick Garcia, 52, of Surfside, Ali Saleh, 35 of Miramar, and Jesus Mariano Gutierrez, 51, of Miami, were convicted in connection with this same scheme to steal pre-retail medical products. Garcia and Zamora were each sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment by Judge Lenard on September 22, 2014; Valle was sentenced to 60 months and Gutierrez was sentenced to 30 months, on August 28, 2014; and, Saleh was sentenced to 34 months on September 4, 2014. The defendants all previously pleaded guilty before Judge Lenard.
The Safe Doses Act, passed by Congress in November, 2012, created a new offense, 18 U.S.C. § 670, which prohibits 1) stealing, or obtaining by fraud or deception, any pre-retail medical product; 2) knowingly and falsely making, altering, forging, or counterfeiting the labeling or documentation of a pre-retail medical product; 3) knowingly possessing or transporting a stolen or fraudulently-obtained pre-retail medical product; and, 4) buying or otherwise obtaining an expired or stolen pre-retail medical product with intent to defraud. The Act also contains enhanced penalties for money laundering offenses involving the proceeds of violations of the Act. Products such as baby formula and cold medicine are covered by the Act.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “Theft and the illegal sale of pre-retail medical products present a risk to public safety. The significant sentences that have been handed down by the Courts, against participants in the cargo theft scheme, tell us all that consumer protection is of utmost importance.”
“FDA sets high quality standards for the safety and nutritional quality of infant formulas because these products are consumed during a critical time in a child’s development; once this product is diverted from the protected supply chain, consumers can no longer be assured of its safety or wholesomeness,” said David W. Bourne, Special Agent in Charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations’ Miami Field Office. “We will continue to protect the public health by bringing such criminals to justice.”
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and FDA-OCI, as part of the Miami Major Theft Task Force. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerrob Duffy.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.