Extradition hearing date set for Canadian fake drug case

Five Canadian men are facing an extradition hearing in May next year over their alleged involvement in an operation distributing counterfeit drugs to American doctors, CBC News has reported.

The five men – Thomas Haughton, Ronald Sigurdson, Darren Chalus, Troy Nakamura, and founder of internet pharmacy Kristjan Thorkelson – were arrested in Manitoba and British Columbia in June under the Extradition Act and released on bail.

Their extradition hearing will be held in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench the week of 7 May 2018, according to CBC News.

A sixth man, James Trueman, was also arrested at the time. His hearing date is expected to be set next week, the news outlet said.

The five men – who are employees of – and associate Trueman are accused of illegally importing and selling $78m-worth of unapproved, misbranded and counterfeit drugs, including fake cancer medicines, to US doctors between 2009 and 2012.

In 2014, US authorities laid charges of smuggling, conspiracy and international money laundering against the men, – which is licensed by the College of Pharmacists in Manitoba, Canada, and is still operating – along with affiliated companies and associates in the UK and Barbados. The following year, the pharmacy’s Winnipeg offices were raided and the assets in one bank account were seized.

The internet pharmacy and other US companies have also been accused of not meeting safety requirements to keep drugs refrigerated, while the UK affiliate River East Supplies, has been accused of falsifying customs documents in order to allegedly smuggle the pharmaceutical products.

According to court documents after the arrests: “Canada Drugs [allegedly] purchased its inventory from questionable sources and ultimately sold counterfeit versions of the drugs Altuzan and Avastin to physicians in the United States.” The court documents also allege that “Thorkelson orchestrated and profited from the Canada Drugs criminal enterprise”.

The extradition hearing is required to view the evidence against the men and establish criminality under Canadian law before a decision will be made on whether the defendants can be extradited to the US to face trial.

“The judge may make a decision from the bench immediately, but may also take time to review the information presented,” Ian McLeod, manager of media relations and litigation communications with the federal Department of Justice, told the news agency.

The defendants can make submissions to state their case before the final decision is made. They also have the right to appeal any decisions all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

If convicted, the men could face up to 20 years in prison and fines, according to CBC News.

The case follows a wider investigation into a counterfeit scam involving the smuggling and distribution of fake drugs via internet pharmacies where it is alleged that non-FDA authorised and mislabelled drugs were purchased from overseas sources to sell to US doctors at a fraction of the cost of the legitimate medicines, while money was allegedly funnelled through affiliates overseas. Thorkelson has been accused of being the mastermind behind the racket.

The US Food and Drug Administration began an investigation of and its alleged distribution of the fake cancer drug Avastin in the US in 2012 after it was revealed that nearly 100 physicians in the US, mostly in California, had purchased bogus cancer drugs.

Fake versions of Avastin were found to contain corn starch and acetone, and no active ingredient. has previously denied it was connected to the counterfeit Avastin, claiming it didn’t sell the drug, although a manager has since acknowledged shipping and distributing Avastin but said he didn’t know the drug was fake.

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top