May 23, 2019 / 3:41 PM / a month ago

U.S. imposes sanctions on Argentina-based online pharmacies for opioids

WASHINGTON, May 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday placed sanctions on Goldpharma, an Argentina-based network of online pharmacies that it said contributed to the opioid crisis by selling clandestinely produced narcotics to customers in the United States.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also designated eight Argentine nationals and nine entities located in Argentina, Colombia, Canada, Britain and the Netherlands for their roles in Goldpharma, the agency said in a statement.

“The Goldpharma network illustrates the sophisticated tactics drug traffickers and money launderers use to capitalize on the Internet and online pharmacy sites to sell highly addictive illicit narcotics around the world,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Goldpharma websites sell both legitimate and clandestinely produced narcotics, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, and tramadol, without a prescription, the statement said. They sell the vast majority of their illicit opioids to customers in the United States, it said.

The move was the latest effort by the Trump Administration to tackle the U.S. epidemic of abuse and overdoses linked to prescription painkillers and other opioids like heroin.

Opioids were involved in a record 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017 in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Five of the Argentine designated individuals have been indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin for their role in Goldpharma, the statement said. Three others were involved in Goldpharma’s money laundering activities, it said.

Seven U.S. companies owned or controlled by designated members of Goldpharma have also been blocked, the statement said.

Goldpharma was identified as a drug trafficking and money laundering organization under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, the statement said.

Any property of the designated persons in the United States would be blocked and U.S. persons would be prohibited from business dealings with them, it said. (Reporting by Mohammad Zargham Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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