MI: Colorado Man Sentenced To 24 Months For Drug Smuggling And Money Laundering Offenses

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten announced that Colorado resident Brendon Gagne, 27, was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison for conspiring to smuggle unapproved, misbranded prescription drugs into the United States and conspiring to launder the proceeds of that smuggling.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker also ordered Gagne to pay a money judgment of $219,793.98, representing the monies traceable to the smuggling conspiracy, and a fine of $2,000. Upon release from prison, Gagne will be on supervised release for a period of three years.

“Smuggling illegal prescription drugs into the United States and distributing them to customers without a prescription is dangerous and potentially deadly,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten.  “There is a reason these drugs should only be prescribed by a licensed medical professional. Here, the conspirators operated a vast network distributing these drugs throughout the country, including here in West Michigan. My office is committed to bringing the people who peddle drugs to justice. Today’s sentence of Mr. Gagne is a vital step in ensuring the continued safety of the communities we serve.”

The facts presented to the court during the case were that, in 2018, Gagne established www.ExpressPCT.com, a public website that sold unapproved, misbranded prescription drugs and controlled substances to customers without a prescription. The drugs, marketed largely to individuals in the body-building community, were targeted to counteract the side effect of anabolic steroid use. For years, Gagne recruited and worked with others to import the drugs into the United States illegally. The drug packages did not declare their illicit contents and instead took steps to conceal their true nature. For example, conspirators frequently concealed the drugs inside cosmetic boxes and declared on customs forms that the drugs were, instead, “cosmetics” or “gifts.” Customers paid for the drugs either in cryptocurrency or, later, through a payment processing system designed to conceal the amount of money generated by the website and the amount of income earned by Gagne and others. Gagne and the website’s other owners ultimately earned millions of dollars from the scheme, most of which they received in cryptocurrency and then shipped to accounts overseas to avoid law enforcement detection.

“Today’s sentencing of Mr. Gagne is another example of the commitment the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and our law enforcement partners have to identifying, disrupting, and arresting those individuals who attempt to distribute illicit drugs, and in this case foreign unapproved drugs, through the U.S. Mail,” said Rodney Hopkins, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Detroit Division. “We will continue to pursue those drug traffickers who distribute potentially dangerous, foreign unapproved prescription drugs and attempt to exploit the distribution channels of the United States Postal Service. I’d like to thank the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, the Michigan State Police, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan for their persistence and dedication in this investigation.”

“Prescription drugs that are smuggled from overseas and are outside the secure supply chain can present a serious health risk to those who use them. The drugs may contain unknown or dangerous ingredients and are manufactured under unknown or unregulated conditions,” said Special Agent in Charge Ronne G. Malham, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Chicago Field Office. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who traffic in illegal prescription drugs.”

In sentencing Gagne, Judge Jonker noted the serious nature of the crime and the sophisticated nature of the smuggling conspiracy, commenting that he had no doubt that Gagne was a driving force behind the website.

Gagne is one of ten defendants who were involved in the scheme to import illegal drugs into the United States. As the creator of the website, Gagne served as a leader in the conspiracy, which Judge Jonker cited as a basis to increase Gagne’s prison sentence. Other defendants sentenced in the scheme include the following:

Name Hometown Sentence
James Funaro Atlanta, GA 15 months in prison
Jeremy Walenty Tampa, FL 3 years of probation
Taylor McLaren Colorado Springs, CO 2 years of probation
Joshua Ford Troy, MI 2 years of probation
Phillip Leonowens Boulder, CO 2 years of probation
Ross Lucien Longmont, CO 2 years of probation
Taylor McLaughlin Muskegon, MI 2 years of probation
Mikaela Hall Muskegon, MI 2  years of probation

The final defendant in the scheme, Jennifer Garrett of Miami, Florida, is scheduled to plead guilty in the coming weeks.

This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Michigan State Police. Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie M. Carowan prosecuted the case for the government.

Tags: Drug Trafficking DTO Steroids

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