Counterfeit Med Maker Dupes Patients With Internet Sales
A key member of a criminal drug gang that sold vast quantities of counterfeit drugs in the United States has been convicted, but his fugitive boss is who the Feds are really after.
A Puerto Rican man, Francis Ortiz Gonzalez has been convicted of conspiracy and seven counts of trafficking in counterfeit pharmaceuticals after a 6 six-day trial in Los Angeles. The trial followed a grand jury indictment from June 2009. Ortiz Gonzalez is set for sentencing on November 8th of this year, announced U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Ortiz Gonzalez was accused of being the US distributor for a global counterfeit drug operation, headed by Bo Jiang, a Chinese national who fled custody in New Zealand after posting bond in 2011. Ortiz Gonzalez’ job in the organization was to take shipment of bulk fake pharmaceuticals and repackage them for individual sale via the Internet.
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In 2009, Ortiz Gonzalez was served with a search warrant at his home in Puerto Rico. There, investigators found over 100,000 counterfeit pills, packaged as Viagra, Cialis, Valium, Xanax, and Lipitor. Ensuing investigations found that he had packaged and shipped over 160,000 fake pills over a 6 month period while working for Jiang’s counterfeit drug enterprise.
Warned Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles, "The burgeoning popularity of e-commerce has led to an explosion in the number of websites offering prescription drugs online. But consumers who are considering purchasing pharmaceutical products over the Internet should heed that old expression 'buyer beware.' Part of what you're paying for when you buy established brands, regardless of the product, is quality control. Imposter drugs like these pose a serious threat to users who mistakenly assume these substances are safe."
The investigation, which began in 2008, included work by HIS Los Angeles, the FDA, Office of Criminal Investigations, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
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