Vendors Cited For Selling Misbranded And Counterfeit Drugs In St. Paul

Medications seized on October 10th during search of Hmong Market. Source: St. Paul Police Department

A months-long investigation resulted in the execution of a search warrant allowing police to seize misbranded and counterfeit drugs from vendors at Hmong Village Market on Johnson Parkway, according to the Pioneer Press. No arrests were made; however, citations were issued to individuals. St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders said items seized included drugs that required prescriptions, medications that can only be sold at licensed facilities, and creams that contained mercury.

The Pioneer Press reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had documented multiple instances of people becoming ill from products sold at the large market. No additional information was given on how many people were sickened or how severely. The search warrant was executed by members from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office and their Violent Crime Enforcement Team, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, the St. Paul Police Department, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the St. Paul city attorney’s office.

Linders said the seizures were about public safety. “It’s about making sure the vendors aren’t selling products that are going to make people sick or products that are illegal.” Police and other government agencies had previously worked with the vendors at Hmong Village Market to educate them about product safety. A press release from the St. Paul Police Department stated that the goal of the investigation was to stop the distribution of illegal substances, and updates on the outcome of this investigation will be available in the future.

This is not the first instance of Hmong markets in the St. Paul area selling misbranded and counterfeit drugs. Police busted two night market vendors selling counterfeit medication at the Hmongtown Marketplace on Como Avenue in April 2106. Three years before that, police seized hundreds of pounds of misbranded pills, drugs, and syringes, leading to charges against seven vendors at that marketplace.