PIKESVILLE, Md. (WJZ)—Eleven people are indicted on federal charges after FBI agents find they trafficked more than $6 million in contraband cigarettes and foreign prescription drugs through a popular pharmacy and restaurant in Pikesville.
Rochelle Ritchie has more on the alarming accusations that could have you running to your medicine cabinet.
The U.S. Attorney says he doesn’t want people to panic, but the owner of the pharmacy received and sold prescriptions that are not approved by the FDA in the United States.
A lucrative drug and money laundering operation orchestrated by several family members has a number of businesses in Pikesville under the FBI’s radar after the owners were arrested on federal charges.
According to the 42-page indictment, Salim Yusufov, owner of Healthway Pharmacy on Reisterstown Road, sold and received unapproved prescription drugs from Germany and Europe.
“It represents a public health risk because it hasn’t been screened. The tests haven’t been done. Nobody has made the determination that it’s safe for use in the United States,” said Rod Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney.
The pharmacy, once awarded the Business of the Year by the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, is now a stigma in the community.
“They had recently completed renovation of their property, and it really fit into our streetscape, and to see all the people indicted is shocking,” said Marcy Gorman, chamber president.
Authorities say the million dollar scheme not only involved the sale of unauthorized prescription drugs but also a black market of contraband cigarettes.
The indictment alleges the crew would buy cigarettes in Maryland and sell them in New York without paying any taxes.
They made more than $6 million off of the transactions, and the owner of the pharmacy received $81,000 in kickbacks.
“Comes as a total shock this is happening in our backyard,” said Jessica Normington, chamber executive.
Despite the investigation surrounding the pharmacy, it remains in full operation.
“The federal authorities don’t have the authority to shut down a pharmacy. That decision will be made by state regulators who have access to information that was gathered by federal investigators,” Rosenstein said.
The U.S. Attorney says if you are concerned about your prescriptions you should contact your doctor.
The pharmacy owner faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
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