According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a federal grand jury came back with a 28-count indictment against four individuals in Puerto Rico for a range of charges including trafficking in counterfeit goods, distribution of a controlled substance, and smuggling. According to the indictment, the defendants in the case, Carlos Enrique Velázquez-Gines, Mayra Evelise Gines-Otero, Noriam Ivette Flores-Deleon, and Vanessa Marrero-Hernández, marketed multiple dietary supplements through online platforms such as eBay.com for male enhancement and weight loss pills. Testing showed that many of the male enhancement pills contained sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra and Cialis, but did not list it as an ingredient. The group is also accused of selling counterfeit condoms.
From at least October 3, 2013, it is alleged that the defendants purchased counterfeit and/or misbranded items from China, illegally imported them into the U.S., and sold them to American consumers. The U.S.P.S. was used to send numerous packages to customers all across the U.S. out of the residence located in Villa Blanca, Manati that the federal government says was used as a warehouse. The defendants also distributed mass quantities of counterfeit and/or misbranded products to wholesale buyers.
Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, said, “These defendants sold counterfeit and misbranded medical devices, as well as counterfeit and misbranded male-enhancement pills. Some of these medications contained drugs that the consumers were not aware of and could cause danger to their health, including heart attacks or strokes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with the FDA to protect the public from adulterated and misbranded products, and to ensure that dietary supplement sellers provide accurate information about their products.”
If convicted of all 28 counts, the defendants face the potential for lengthy prison sentences. They are also facing a forfeiture of almost $3.7 million. Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Veronda is prosecuting this case.