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CAMDEN, N.J. -- A 7-Eleven owner has been charged with smuggling flu vaccine into the United States in an effort to cash in on the national shortage of the inoculations, reported the Associated Press.
His lawyer says Mahmoud A. Abuarqoub, 37, thought it was legal to try to import the drug from Saudi Arabia and sell it to a hospital near his New Jersey home.
Abuarqoub was arrested Saturday as he landed at Philadelphia International Airport after a trip to Jordan. He appeared Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Camden. If convicted of smuggling, Abuarqoub could face up to five years in prison, a federal prosecutor said.
"We have not seen anything like this where someone was so brazen to approach a hospital," to offer to sell black-market vaccine, said Kyle Hutchins, special agent in charge of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency's Newark office.
According to court documents, Abuarqoub, who owns a 7-Eleven store in Villas, N.J., contacted Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point with an offer to sell up to 20,000 doses of flu vaccine. Hospital officials notified authorities of the unusual offer and agreed to take part in a sting.