San Fernando Valley Man Sentenced to 15 Months in Federal Prison for Trafficking in Counterfeit, Chinese-Made Pharmaceuticals
LOS ANGELES – A North Hollywood man was sentenced today to 15 months in federal prison in relation to a plot in which he possessed, and had the intent to distribute for profit, more than 2,000 Chinese-made counterfeit pharmaceutical pills.
Edward Alarcon, 44, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge George H. Wu. In addition to the prison term, Judge Wu ordered Alarcon to pay $1,000 restitution to Eli Lilly and Company, the manufacturer of Cialis, and $1,000 to Purdue Pharma L.P., the manufacturer of OxyContin.
After a three-day jury trial in January, Alarcon was convicted on two counts of trafficking in counterfeit OxyContin and Cialis. The evidence presented at trial showed that Alarcon had purchased the bogus OxyContin from Bo Jiang, a Chinese national and the alleged head of a counterfeit drug ring. Alarcon had offered to sell counterfeit Cialis, Viagra and Levitra on Craigslist.
“The size, shape and color of the pills, as well as the markings on them and their packaging were identical to and substantially indistinguishable from genuine marks in use and registered for the brand-name pills on the principal register of the United States Patent and Trademark Office,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed in Alarcon’s case. “The use of these marks was likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive because the pills and their packaging appeared to be the legitimate, brand-name products but were not. Moreover, the chemical composition of the pills was not the same as that of the legitimate products.”
Jiang, whose last known residence was in New Zealand, was taken into custody in January 2011 by New Zealand law enforcement authorities after being named with Alarcon in a federal grand jury indictment. However, Jiang was released on bond and became a fugitive.
On November 10, 2009, federal agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) found approximately 237 counterfeit OxyContin pills and approximately 1,592 counterfeit Cialis pills in Alarcon’s car and house. Investigators also found hundreds of other counterfeit pills, including Viagra and Levitra (at trial, Alarcon was acquitted on charges related to the Viagra and Levitra). Only a month before the federal search, Alarcon had been convicted in state court on counterfeit drug charges for selling bogus Cialis to an undercover Los Angeles Police Department officer.
In a related case, Francis Ortiz Gonzalez, who worked as a “dropshipper” for Jiang in the United States, was sentenced by Judge Wu in January to two years in federal prison and was ordered to pay $324,530 in restitution for trafficking counterfeit pharmaceuticals (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2013/012.html).
The cases against Alarcon, Jiang and Ortiz Gonzalez are the result of investigations by HSI; the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Release No. 13-048
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