Brooklyn, New York residents Bu Young Kim and Chan Hui Cho pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to dispense and administer cosmetic drugs and treatment without being a licensed medical professional, import of misbranded drugs and attempting to smuggle $79,986 from the United States to South Korea.
According to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), neither Kim nor Cho had any formal medical training and neither was licensed to practice medicine. The pair routinely traveled to South Korea to purchase the fake cosmetic injectables, smuggled them into the United States and administered them to individuals in Hawaii and elsewhere in private residences and hotel rooms. Customs and Border Protection inspectors in Honolulu, Hawaii discovered the couple in March 2016 attempting to smuggle nearly $80,000 on their persons and in their luggage. The cash was concealed in sanitary napkin containers.
According to ABC News, Michael Green is one of the attorneys representing the couple and he said many of their customers came to them because of the discounted prices they charged for a treatment. Mr. Green stated that an investigation into the couple only started after a client of theirs got an infection after a session and that it was an attempt to, “shake them down.”
In state statement released by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) Honolulu Joanna Ip said, “Drugs and medical devices are strictly regulated in order to protect the American consumer. Individuals who circumvent those regulations potentially expose patients to unsafe products that could cause serious harm. HSI will continue to target those whose actions put the health and safety of our citizens at risk.”
Kim and Cho will be sentenced in July. Each faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. $86,461 was already seized during a search of their New York residence and was forfeited to the government. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ken Sorenson and Amalia Fenton prosecuted this case.