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Counterfeit Med Seller Convicted by Federal Jury – ICE Led Investigation

A federal jury convicted Luis Angel Garcia Torres, 41, of Puerto Rico on 12 counts related to trafficking in counterfeit medicine, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, on June 14, 2012.

Garcia Torres used the internet to purchase the medication, provided advice to the counterfeit manufacturers in China on avoiding detection by US law enforcement, and then sold the fake drugs to undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Houston, TX.

A federal jury convicted Luis Angel Garcia Torres, 41, of Puerto Rico on 12 counts related to trafficking in counterfeit medicine, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, on June 14, 2012.

Garcia Torres used the internet to purchase the medication, provided advice to the counterfeit manufacturers in China on avoiding detection by US law enforcement, and then sold the fake drugs to undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Houston, TX.  

ICE has making an intensive push to intercept counterfeit medication as they make their way into the US through customs, as Deputy Director of ICE, Kumar Kibble told audience members at the 2011 PSM Interchange.

“At ICE, the second largest investigative agency in the nation,” said Deputy Director Kumar Kibble,  “we are targeting counterfeit prescription drug activity in an intensive way.”

“Counterfeit drugs deceive consumers, undermine public trust of the pharmaceutical industry and pose a major risk to public health.”

Discussing ICE’s role in the pursuing medicine counterfeiters, Kibble said “We are well posed both domestically and internationally to investigate counterfeit prescription drug offenses.  We are charged with a wide berth of responsibilites to protect the nation’s borders, land, air and sea, from illegal entry of people, money and materials….We have more than 7,000 special agents that are assigned to 200 offices around the country and 70 offices around the world.”

Garcia Torres used the internet to obtain and distribute the counterfeit medication.  Undercover Homeland Security Investigation special agents purchased about 3,600 tablets from Garcia Torres between January and August 2010.  The counterfeit drugs were exported from China and shipped from a Puerto Rico address to the agents in Houston, TX.  The FDA’s Forensic Chemistry Center analyzed them for authenticity.  

Investigation into Garcia Torres email address showed that he had obtained the fake drugs from China and discussed with his Chinese suppplies methods to avoid law enforcement detection.

Garcia Torres was convicted of of one fellow count of conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods, one count each of causing the introduction of misbranded and counterfeit prescritpion drugs into interstate commerce, six felony counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods, and five misdemeanor counts comprised of causing the introduction into interstate commerce of misbranded drugs and trademark counterfeiting, reports the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Food and Drug Administration.

Garica Torres remains free on bond pending his sentencing hearing on August 30th, 2012.  The maximum sentence he may face is 10 years in federal prison, and a $2 million fine.

Deputy Director Kibble was one of several law enforcement officials who have spoken at the Partnership for Safe Medicines Interchange.  Other previous speakers included Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the USFDA, Michael Levy, acting director of the Office of Drug Security, Integrity and Recalls, and Doug Gansler, Maryland Attorney General. 

Tickets are available for the 2012 Interchange on September 28, 2012 at the National Press Club in Washington D.CPlease note that this year’s event is happening a month earlier than last year’s Interchange. Early registration tickets are available until August 15, 2012.

By S. Imber

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