Department of Justice seal U.S. Department of Justice

Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-072

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PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

GARDENA MAN ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF SELLING COUNTERFEIT PHARMACEUTICALS, INCLUDING VIAGRA


Los Angeles, CA - A Gardena man was arrested today on federal criminal charges of selling counterfeit Viagra, Cialis and Levitra that he purchased from counterfeiters in China.

Masaru Yamasato, 44, was arrested today following an investigation conducted by the United States Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations. Yamasato was charged in a criminal complaint with trafficking in counterfeit goods and sale of counterfeit drugs.

This investigation began on October 31, 2005, when officers with the United States Customs and Border Protection examined a package that was being shipped from China to Yamasato. The package was labeled "samples of plastic," but when officers examined it, they found pills that bore markings suggesting that they were Viagra, Cialis and Levitra pills. Subsequent laboratory testing confirmed, however, that they were counterfeit.

On February 2, 2006, special agents with FDA-OCI interviewed Yamasato at his residence. According to the criminal complaint, during the interview, Yamasato acknowledged that he and a partner purchased the drugs over the Internet from a source in China. The counterfeit drugs were then sold to a customer, who in turn sold the counterfeit drugs to individuals throughout Asia. Yamasato also voluntarily provided agents with documents showing that he purchased the counterfeit drugs from a source in China, Cherry Wong, who, according to the complaint, is a major supplier of counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

During his initial court appearance this afternoon, a United States Magistrate Judge ordered Yamasato held without bond and scheduled an arraignment for July 10.

The two charges in the criminal complaint carry a maximum possible sentence of 13 years in federal prison.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided assistance with today's operation.

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Release No. 06-072

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