Louisiana Woman Convicted of Selling Chinese-made “Natural” Supplements Containing Sibutramine

Darlene Krueger and her co-conspirators sold Chinese-made, “all-natural” weight loss supplements via website and mail order sales. Operating out of Louisiana and Florida, Krueger repackaged and sold bulk illicit medications containing the banned weight-loss drug sibutramine, which she then passed off as herbal supplements to her unsuspecting customers.

On March 23, 2016, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that a Louisiana Federal Grand Jury had convicted Darlene V. Krueger of three counts of distributing a controlled substance, and three counts of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce.

According to the FDA, Krueger participated in a conspiracy to sell Chinese-manufactured weight-loss pills as dietary supplements. Between 2009-2014, Krueger and her co-conspirators sold fake natural supplements with names like “Slim Forte Slimming Capsules” and “Slim-Vie Slimming Capsules.”

According to her indictment, Krueger “knew that The Drugs were not ‘all natural’ dietary supplements in that they contained sibutramine, a Schedule IV controlled substance, and that sibutramine had known harmful side effects.”

The indictment also notes that Krueger used the pseudonym “Molly” to respond to customers on the Slim Vie website as if she was also a customer. She refused to identify the true ingredients in the pills and responded to complaints by saying: “If the product had something terrible in it, EVERYBODY would be complaining, myself included.”

According to the FDA, her co-conspirator, John Wesley Hoag of Florida, pled guilty to involvement in the conspiracy, and admitted to illegally importing the dangerous fake diet pills from Chinese manufacturers, and passing along the fakes to his distributors, such as Kroeger, and directly to consumers.

The FDA shared Robert J. West, Special Agent-in-Charge, Miami Field Office, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations conclusions, “Consumers are put at serious risk when they are unknowingly exposed to undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients in products falsely labeled as natural dietary supplements. Our office will continue to defend the public’s health by ensuring that dietary supplements are accurately labeled, and do not contain dangerous undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients.”

Kroeger and Hoag face “significant incarceration, fine, restitution, forfeiture of proceeds, and supervised release following imprisonment,” at their sentencing, reports the FDA.

By S. Imber