Tuesday, June 15, 2010

DOJ/FBI: Georgia Man Pleads Guilty to Multi-Million-Dollar Cargo Theft Conspiracy

Goods Traced to More Than 20 Interstate Cargo Thefts Totaling More Than $3 Million Over Four-Year Period

In a June 2 Press Release, the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that a Georgia man, John Raymond Smith, has plead guilty in Atlanta Federal Court to conspiring to buy, receive and possess goods stolen from multiple interstate tractor trailer and container shipments throughout Georgia and the Southeastern United States from May 2005 and July 2009.

Mr. Smith also pleaded guilty to related cargo theft and money laundering charges.
The stolen goods included consumer goods, electronics, food and pharmaceuticals and many of the stolen shipments were bound for major retailers.

According to the Department of Justice Press Release:

· United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of today’s plea, “Metro Atlanta is a major transportation hub, which makes it an attractive target for cargo thieves. By creating a market in this area for stolen goods, dealers like SMITH encourage others to steal interstate shipments, knowing that they will have a safe haven to unload and sell their truckloads of stolen goods. Consumers who buy these products should suspect they are stolen if they seem to be first-quality, name-brand products at unrealistically low prices.”

· IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent In Charge Reginael D. McDaniel said, “Money laundering is not a victimless crime. This case is a prime example of how a criminal enterprise creates an underground, untaxed economy that harms our country's overall economic strength.”
· Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Kennan said, “Cargo theft is an under-reported criminal phenomenon that has disastrous cascading economic consequences to Georgians. This annual estimated five billion dollar criminal activity negatively impacts transportation providers, retailers and consumers through higher shipping, insurance premiums and retail costs. These modern-day pirates cruise the nation's asphalt interstate corridors and parking lots, much like their predecessors who sailed the open seas for unsuspecting targets of opportunity. These pirates have been stopped.”

· According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: Between May 2005 and July 2009, SMITH, who operated “Smith Sales Company” out of warehouses in Mableton and Hiram, Georgia, conspired with ROBIN L. CHEATWOOD, who operated “A-Z Discount” in Cedartown, Georgia, and other co-conspirators to buy, receive, and possess goods stolen from nearly two dozen interstate tractor trailer and container shipments valued at over $3 million throughout the Southeastern United States, including shipments stolen in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The tractor trailers and containers were stolen while parked at truck stops, motels, and container storage facilities, often at night. SMITH, CHEATWOOD, and others then sold the goods at discounted prices to consumers and wholesalers.

· As part of a plea agreement with the government, SMITH pleaded guilty to a three count Criminal Information filed on May 17, 2010, charging one count of conspiracy; one count of buying, receiving, and possessing goods stolen from an interstate cargo shipment; and one count of money laundering. He could receive a maximum sentence of up to 5 years in prison on the conspiracy count, 10 years in prison on each of the cargo theft and money laundering counts, and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.

Mr. Smith’s sentencing is scheduled for August 17, 2010, at 9:30 a.m., before United States District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr.

This conspiracy of cargo theft underscores the vulnerability of the pharmaceutical supply chain and is evidence of how vulnerable the products that they consume daily are and the growing prevalence of adulterated, fraudulent and counterfeit medications.

Secure Pharma Chain Blog, endorses the concept of all members of the supply using authentication technologies to verify their inventories and chain of custody.

To learn more about pharmaceutical supply chain solutions, visit: http://www.xstreamsystems.net/.

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