Houston man gets 25 years for fake pharma trafficking

A Houston man who led a counterfeit drug trafficking scheme has been sentenced to federal prison for 25 years, after being convicted of counterfeit drug trafficking and money laundering.

The 300-month sentence handed to Byron Marshall (45) came after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy, trafficking in counterfeit drugs, and money laundering conspiracy.

One of his co-conspirators – Florida-based president of Woodfield Pharmaceuticals Adam Runsdorf (58) – was sentenced to 72 months in July and ordered to forfeit $5m and a McClaren sportscar.

According to information presented in court, Marshall used Woodfield’s manufacturing facility and employees in Houston to produce more than 500,000 pints of counterfeit codeine-based cough syrups.

Marshall’s drug trafficking organisation then sold the counterfeit drugs across Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, California, Florida, Arkansas, and Ohio, with prices ranging from $100 to more than $1,000 for a one-pint bottle.

The cough syrups were copies of products known to be prone to abuse by recreational drug users, including an Actavis brand that was withdrawn from sale several years ago.

Depending on the market and brand of cough syrup, prices went as high as $3,800 to $4,000 per pint, according to the Department of Justice.

During the conspiracy, Marshall communicated directly with Runsdorf regarding the production of the counterfeit cough syrup. At Runsdorf’s request, Marshall paid Woodfield in cash only, and Woodfield employees mailed the cash directly to Runsdorf in Boca Raton.

“Marshall was the ringleader of a drug trafficking organization responsible for selling counterfeit drugs across most of the southeastern US and many other states,” said US Attorney Damien Diggs after the lengthy prison sentence was announced. 

“Drug trafficking organizations like this are a cancer to our nation and present a substantial threat to our communities,” he added.

Nine other people were also accused of the crimes and have all pleaded guilty, with eight now sentenced including Marshall and Runsdorf.

The others are Chauntell Brown, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and trafficking in counterfeit drugs and was sentenced to 72 months, and Cheryl Anderson, Ashley Rhea, Maria Anzures-Camarena and Kalpen Patel, who each pleaded guilty to conspiracy and were sentenced to 60 months. Three others are awaiting sentencing.

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