Michigan Man Pleads Guilty to Illegally Importing Goods into the U.S.

May 16, 2019

A Marquette, Michigan man pleaded guilty to smuggling goods into the United States using fraudulent shipping invoices, according to federal law enforcement officials.

Curtis Wenzlaff, 55, pleaded guilty in April, capping an investigation by the Office of Criminal Investigations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.

Background on the Case

Wenzlaff operated a domestic profit corporation, Sanno Industries, Inc., from his past residence located in Flushing, Michigan, according to a press release issued by the FDA.

Wenzlaff acted as a drop shipper for companies outside the United States. He was paid to assume the risk and consequences of the U.S. government identifying, seizing, and refusing entry of products illegally imported in to the nation, according to the release.

Between July 2014 and April 2016, Wenzlaff smuggled in numerous items that were commonly used to make drugs that the FDA regulated. When the items were smuggled in, the products had false labels that stated they contained blueberry extract and sunscreen lotion ingredients.

According to authorities, Wenzlaff accepted the delivery of the packages, and then, other unnamed individuals provided him with instructions regarding relabeling the items. He also was instructed on how to repackage and ship the products to the intended customers.

Wenzlaff received more than $25,000 from shippers to receive and reship the packages as instructed, according to the release. He told authorities that a chunk of the funds received was to reimburse him for shipping costs associated with the imported goods.

Authorities say that Wenzlaff was aware that the goods that were imported into the United States were not going to be used for what he claimed on shipping paperwork. Even though he was aware that the information he provided about the items was false, he accepted the goods and concealed them in order to go through with the sale fo the merchandise to a third party.

Authorities valued the products that were illegally smuggled into the nation by Wenzlaff was valued at more than $1 million.

Why the FDA Was Involved

FDA regulations protect consumers and help ensure the drug products the buyers receive are safe and effective. Whenever consumers gain access to products that are not what they state they are, purchasers are put at risk for dangerous side effects, including death.

The FDA continues to pursue any parties that participate in purchasing, labeling, or distributing fake products.

What Happens Next with the Defendant

Wenzlaff’s plea agreement provides for an anticipated sentencing guideline range of 24 to 30 months in prison. Sentencing is set for Aug. 8.

The Last Word on the Issue

PSPs and e-commerce platforms have a duty to protect their businesses and the public from dangerous products, like the ones that Wenzlaff pleaded guilty to. If you think a merchant is selling any of these items, you need to take action before you get hit with fines and other penalties.

Also, merchants need to be aware of any suspicious activity or pay the price. Payment service providers can face penalties and other punishments for unlawful behavior.

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If you are a business that needs a high-risk merchant account, then contact eMerchantBroker.com (EMB). It specializes in payment solutions for many types of high-risk businesses. Apply online today. The process is simple and easy.

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