Attorney General Becerra and U.S. Attorney Braverman Announce Sentencing in Illegal Pharmaceutical Drug Trafficking
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Adam L. Braverman today announced the sentencing of Lahkwinder Singh and his corporation, Lovely Singh Inc., related to an investigation associated with the illegal trafficking of pharmaceuticals. Lovely Singh Inc., a company that owns a franchise of Postal Annex, was sentenced for illegally structuring $2.95 million worth of proceeds from pharmaceutical drugs that were trafficked from the U.S.-Mexico border. While doing business as a franchise of shipping company Postal Annex, Lovely Singh Inc. facilitated the shipment of controlled pharmaceutical drugs such as hydrocodone, Xanax and oxycodone through the mail. Lahkwinder Singh, the CEO of the company was sentenced in federal court today to 36 months in federal prison. The 36-month sentence is one of the longest imposed in the Southern District of California for a structuring conviction. Singh’s closely held corporation, Lovely Singh, Inc., was ordered to forfeit $1,000,000, and serve a 5-year term of probation.
Singh owned and operated Postal Annex franchises in Lemon Grove, California, under the name Lovely Singh. According to the complaint, Singh engaged in a multi-year pattern of cash transactions below the $10,000 threshold to avoid detection by banks and law enforcement, with the intent to deposit Lovely Singh’s cash proceeds free from scrutiny.
“Trafficking pharmaceutical drugs and illegally selling them without a prescription is dangerous and will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Let this sentence send a message: if you attempt to unlawfully manipulate our financial system and fuel prescription drug abuse for a quick buck, federal and state law enforcement will hold you accountable.”
“The U.S. mail is not a delivery service for drug traffickers, and our banking system is not meant to launder millions of dollars of drug money,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “Together with our law enforcement partners we have put a stop to this brazen scheme and kept our institutions from being exploited by criminals.”
“Postal Inspectors and our law enforcement partners will vigorously investigate, arrest, and prosecute anyone who willfully allows the introduction of a controlled substance into the U.S. Mail. Today’s sentencing sends a strong message to drug traffickers that Postal Inspectors stand ready to protect the sanctity of the mail,” said Postal Inspector in Charge Nichole Cooper.
“In this investigation, HSI and our law enforcement partners uncovered a sophisticated financial scheme aimed at providing cover for cash transactions that were tied to the illicit distribution of controlled substances in cities throughout the United States,” said Dave Shaw, HSI Special Agent in Charge in San Diego. “HSI continues to remind the community of the serious public health threat, as well as warn individuals who put consumers at risk for their own financial gain. We are committed to working closely with all of our law enforcement partners, both domestic and abroad, to prevent counterfeit drugs from being smuggled into the U.S. and distributed illegally over the internet.”
“Lahkwinder Singh thought he had the perfect scam going when he started using his Postal Annex to hide money earned by drug traffickers from the IRS," said Special Agent in Charge R. Damon Rowe, IRS Criminal Investigation Los Angeles Field Office. "Thanks to the hard work of IRS CI special agents and their law enforcement partners, Singh is now paying the price for his scheme and drug traffickers have lost another venue to launder their ill-gotten gains.”
“Mr. Singh utilized a legitimate mail delivery business to distribute prescription drugs, including fentanyl and OxyContin, throughout the United States in order to avoid detection by law enforcement,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers. “Mr. Singh’s actions directly contributed to the devastation of our American communities caused by the opioid epidemic. DEA will continue to investigate those seeking to profit from the illegal distribution of drugs and destruction of our communities.”
As Singh and his corporation admitted in each of their plea agreements, Singh and his co-defendant Lovely Singh Inc. distributed Schedule II controlled substances to persons throughout the United States. Couriers imported pre-packaged quantities of controlled substances into the United States from Mexico and delivered them to the Postal Annexes. The substances were then illegally sold for prices ranging between $1 and $100.
The plea agreement also states that Singh attempted to set up $2,955,521 of currency transactions through 469 cash deposits at several domestic financial institutions. Singh conducted multiple deposits of less than $10,000 in cash on the same day. He also made deposits into at least 19 different bank accounts over the course of several business days. These deposits were conducted with the purpose of avoiding a Currency Transaction Report, which is the report a financial institution must file for cash deposits exceeding $10,000 during any banking day. These cash deposits included money received in return for shipping controlled substances from the Postal Annex stores.
Singh was ultimately charged with and found guilty of Structuring Currency Transactions with One or More Financial Institutions. The investigation was a joint effort including the California Department of Justice; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; and the Drug Enforcement Administration.