MyNewsLA.com reported on an announcement that Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer received a permanent injunction and a $50,000 penalty against two people accused of selling banned, misbranded, and counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Flavia Maria Rodriguez and Salvador Enrique Velasco Sanchez illegally imported drugs from Mexico and Central American countries into the U.S. where the drugs were then sold in Southern California and beyond. The injunction was the result of a four-year multi-agency investigation, which Feuer believes to be one of the largest conducted in the U.S.
“Counterfeit and illegal pharmaceuticals pose a serious threat to public health and safety,” said Feuer. “My office and our law enforcement partners will continue to bring those who prey upon some of our most vulnerable residents, and jeopardize their health, to justice.” A press release announcing the injunction stated that private investigators and law enforcement officials discovered that Velasco Sanchez traveled to El Salvador on multiple occasions to purchase pharmaceuticals and shipped them back to Rodriguez in Los Angeles.
The couple kept the pharmaceuticals in a South Los Angeles home before distributing them in Los Angeles, Compton, Bakersfield, Reno, San Francisco, Houston, and Atlanta. During a search of the residence in May 2018, police recovered 42,605 illegal, misbranded, and counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Neither Rodriguez nor Velasco Sanchez has a license to sell pharmaceuticals, but the pair still sold dangerous, illegal, and misbranded pharmaceuticals to investigators on 14 different times.
Rodriguez has ties to a previous counterfeit medicine case that the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office handled. She was an employee at Tienda Quetzal Nava, a South Los Angeles store found to be selling counterfeit medicines that Feuer secured an injunction and fine against in September 2018. Rodriguez and Velasco Sanchez have a permanent injection that prohibits them from selling pharmaceuticals or engaging in the advertisement related to pharmaceuticals or herbal remedies. The $50,000 fine includes civil penalties and covers investigation costs and restitution. The complete judgment against Rodriguez and Velasco Sanchez can be read here.
Supervising City Attorney Kevin Gilligan and Deputy City Attorney Sasha Lazarevich of the City Attorney’s Anti-Counterfeit Enforcement Program were responsible for the litigation and criminal prosecutions for this case. The Los Angeles City Attorney previously published tips on how consumers can avoid counterfeit and illegal pharmaceuticals. Those tips are available in English and Spanish.