Four indicted over drug-laced supplements, fake condoms

Three women and one man in Puerto Rico have been arrested and charged with offences related to the sale of counterfeit and misbranded goods.

According to the indictment, defendants Carlos Enrique Velázquez-Gines, Mayra Evelise Gines-Otero, Noriam Ivette Flores-Deleon and Vanessa Marrero-Hernández sold dietary supplements for male enhancement or weight loss which included unlabelled active pharmaceutical ingredients, including sildenafil – the active ingredient in Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug Viagra and its generics.

They also sold counterfeit condoms and Kylie Cosmetics brand products, including lipstick kits, according to the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“The trafficking of counterfeit goods is simply illegal and in some cases, as this, it becomes a problem of public health and safety and at times threatens national security,” said Orlando Baez, who oversees HSI operations throughout Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

“This illegal activity represents a triple threat as it delivers substandard and often dangerous goods into the economy, rob citizens of good-paying jobs, and generate proceeds that are often funneled back into other criminal enterprises,” he added.

The counterfeits were purchased from overseas suppliers located in China, it said, adding that in an effort to evade detection by law enforcement, the defendants had the packages shipped to a trans-shipper located in Miami who would then repackage and/or relabel the parcels and send them on to Puerto Rico. The items were then distributed across the US via the postal service.

“They used a residence in Villa Blanca, Manatí, as a warehouse to store and distribute the unlawful products they purchased from overseas suppliers,” said ICE in a statement. “The defendants also distributed wholesale quantities of the counterfeit and/or misbranded products imported from overseas to wholesale buyers.”

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