New York: US authorities have busted a drug distribution ring that imported millions of opioid pills from India with the arrest of eight people.
The opioids were mislabelled in India to hide their illegal nature and sent over to the US.
The arrested, all of Indian origin and living in New York City, were arrested on Thursday. It was not clear from whom they received the drugs from India.
"They participated in a black market for prescription medications by distributing millions of opioid pills in tens of thousands of transactions in one year alone," federal prosecutor Richard Donoghue said, IANS reported.
The epidemic of opioids has become a national crisis with 47,600 deaths from overdoses in 2017, according to government statistics.
Opioids are pain-reducing medications but there are also serious harms associated with the potentially lethal substance drug, as per the US Food and Drug Administration, which is trying to curb its misuse.
Those arrested and charged with conspiracy in connection with drug distribution were Ezhil Sezhian Kamaldoss, Harpreet Singh, Parthiban Narayanasamy, Baljeet Singh, Deepak Manchanda, Gulab Gulab, Mukul Chugh and Vikas M. Verma.
Kamaldoss also faces money laundering charges.
According to the Justice Department, distributors in India shipped misbranded Tramadol, a synthetic opioid, and other drugs to individuals and entities in the US using the postal system and commercial couriers.
The eight people arrested operated out of a warehouse in the Queens district of New York City where they repackaged the pills and mailed out millions of pills to customers across the country, the department said.
In their operations, they maintained daily ledgers detailing the names, addresses, pill size and pill amounts ordered by customers, according to the department.
During the course of the investigation that began in January 2018, they distributed millions of Tramadol pills, the department said.