The criminal case against an Indian American businessman in California, Lakhwinder ‘Victor’ Singh, who is accused of partnering with a Mexican drug trafficking organization to package and ship addictive prescription drugs to customers across the country, is moving forward as Singh’s former employee recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute oxycodone, and a San Diego district judge accepted this month.
Since his March 2016 arrest, Singh has fought the charges against him, while his former employee, Alejandro Nava has now pleaded guilty, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Last September, a grand jury for the Southern District of California returned a six-count superseding indictment Singh and his business Lovely Singh, Inc. for their role in a criminal conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and for structuring approximately $3,938,976 into bank accounts all throughout San Diego County, according to the Justice Department.
Singh owned and operated Postal Annex stores in La Mesa and Lemon Grove. In addition to distributing the controlled substances, the Postal Annex stores operated as agents for an international money transmitting business. With the cash generated from the Postal Annex stores, Singh is alleged to have conducted hundreds of cash deposits for less than $10,000 in an effort to evade the law requiring the filing of a Currency Transaction Report. In total, the indictment alleged that Singh conducted 651 cash deposits between December 2011 and January 2014.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported the investigation of Singh began in 2013, after federal agents identified a drug courier who was using a shipping facility in National City to move drugs, according to court documents filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Orlando Gutierrez.
The courier was arrested at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in December 2013 with several packages of prescription drugs and began to work with authorities in exchange for not being prosecuted. The confidential source told investigators about Singh’s operation, which was being run out of a Postal Plus Annex on University Avenue in the eastern San Diego neighborhood of Darnall, and a Postal Annex on Broadway in Lemon Grove.
Singh, who immigrated from India in 1982 and became a U.S. citizen in the early 1990s, bought his first Postal Annex in 2001, according to a motion filed by his attorney, Robert Boyce. Singh also bought a strip mall in 2014 for $1.6 million, paying the $707,000 down payment in cash, according to prosecutors.
The source told investigators that the pills came from a drug trafficking group in Mexico run by Bernardo Garcia, who allegedly dealt in drugs such as such as oxycodone, Xanax, methadone, amphetamine and Ritalin. Authorities have not revealed any further information about Garcia, including his whereabouts or if he is the target of a current investigation.
Customers would place orders for the drugs via a website, and the traffickers would prepackage the purchased amount and hire a courier to smuggle the goods into the United States, according to court records. Meanwhile, Garcia would email the shipping information to Singh so pre-printed labels could be made, court records say.
The courier would deliver the drugs to one of the Postal Annexes, and Singh and Nava would package and ship the orders across the country using various mailing services, including the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS, prosecutors said.
The source met with Singh and Nava on March 13, 2014, in a meeting that was monitored by authorities, and the three talked about the scheme, with Singh saying the organization had brought 20 packages of drugs the day before and that shipments usually occur two or three times a week, according to prosecutors. Singh also provided the source advice for packaging drugs, such as packing the pills flat and not bulky to better avoid detection by law enforcement, prosecutors said.
In 2015, agents had another courier under watch. On one trip, she was observed crossing into the United States from Mexico and arriving at the Broadway Postal Annex with a large red handbag. Fifteen minutes later, Singh left with two large mail bins and dropped them off at the College Grove Post Office. Investigators intercepted four flat rate parcel envelopes and found a variety of prescription drugs inside. The sender address was a bogus location in Spring Valley.
The courier was arrested in August 2015 after a large amount of pills were found in her bra as she crossed at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. She pleaded guilty to importing drugs and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.
UPS corporate security officials mailed Singh four letters over the course of a year and spoke on the phone warning that it was illegal for him to ship pharmaceuticals. In the last two letters, UPS said it was concerned that his stores continued to ship drugs. Singh did not reply, according to investigators.
On March 9, 2016, Nava was arrested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, and Singh was arrested after investigators searched the Broadway Postal Annex and Singh’s home. Agents found a baggie of about 120 generic Xanax pills in a drawer under a cash register as well as pre-printed shipping labels, according to court records.
When interviewed by agents, Singh initially denied knowledge of pharmaceuticals but later admitted to knowing that he was shipping “medicines,” according to court documents.