PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A resident of Chino Valley, Arizona, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to smuggle misbranded drugs into the United States and introduce them into interstate commerce, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Jeremy Brooks, 31, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.
During his plea hearing, Brooks admitted that between January 2016 and May 8, 2018, he engaged in a conspiracy to obtain unapproved drugs in bulk quantities from overseas suppliers, including suppliers in China, for the purpose of pressing the drugs into pills and distributing them to customers throughout the United States via an internet-based business—Domestic RCS—that he and a co-conspirator, Justin Ash, controlled. The business’s website, www.domesticrcs.com, advertised multiple unapproved or “misbranded” drugs—clonazolam, diclazepam, flubromazolam, and etizolam—each of which was a non-prescription benzodiazepine or substance with a similar chemical composition. As Brooks further acknowledged, these substances carried risks of dependency, toxicity, and even fatal overdose, particularly when combined with other central nervous system depressants. Although the co-conspirators’ website and the packaging contained in their shipments indicated that the substances were for “research purposes only,” Brooks admitted that he was aware that the vast majority of customers purchased the drugs for individual consumption. Indeed, Brooks, Ash, or others acting at their direction communicated directly with individual customers about, among other things, the effects of the drugs when used for personal consumption. In an effort to evade detection by United States federal authorities, including the United States Food and Drug Administration, United States Postal Inspection Service, and United States Customs and Border Protection, Brooks also admitted that he and Ash caused their overseas suppliers to ship drugs to multiple addresses under their control and in smaller quantities that would draw less government scrutiny.
As part of a written plea agreement, Brooks agreed to forfeit approximately $106,000 in currency seized as part of the investigation.
Brooks faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of not more than the greater of (i) $250,000 or (ii) an alternative fine in an amount not more than the greater of twice the gross pecuniary gain to any person or twice, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
In a related case before Judge Schwab, Ash pleaded guilty for his role in the conspiracy on January 16, 2020, and is awaiting sentencing.
Assistant United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. The United States Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation leading to the charge in this case.