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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


BRADLEY J. SCHLOZMAN



Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html



FEBRUARY 8, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


MEXICAN GROCERY OWNERS PLEAD GUILTY TO

ILLEGALLY SELLING PRESCRIPTION DRUGS


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Bradley J. Schlozman, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that the owners of La Durangena grocery store in Monett, Mo., along with their son who worked at the store, pleaded guilty in federal court today to selling prescription drugs that were smuggled into the United States from Mexico, and for dispensing those drugs at their store to customers who did not have a doctor’s prescription.


            Efren Moreno, Sr., 46, and his wife, Eloisa M. Soto, 44, owners of La Durangena grocery store, 310 E. Broadway in Monett, and their son Efren Moreno, Jr., 23, who worked at the store, all of Monett, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge James C. England this morning. Efren Moreno, Sr., and Soto each pleaded guilty to one count of dispensing prescription drugs without supervision of a medical practitioner and one count of goods smuggling. Efren Moreno, Jr., pleaded guilty to one count of receipt of and delivery for pay of misbranded drugs. Soto, a citizen of Mexico, is a permanent resident alien.


            By pleading guilty today, Efren Moreno, Sr., and Soto each admitted that, from December 2003 to April 29, 2004, they bought, sold and concealed at their store prescription and non-prescription drugs that had been smuggled into the United States from Mexico. Those drugs, none of which may be lawfully landed in the United States, included Pentrexyl Ampicilina, Penprocilina, XL-3 Antigripal, Duals Adulto, Neo-Melubrina, Agin and Terramicina.


            On April 21, 2004, Efren Moreno, Sr., sold Pentrexyl Ampicilina at the store to a cooperating individual without a prescription. On Dec. 9, 2003, Soto sold Pentrexyl Ampicilina at the store to a cooperating individual without a prescription. Pentrexyl Ampicilina, which is intended for use in the mitigation or treatment of a closed or swollen throat, is a prescription drug because it is not safe for use except under the supervision of a lawfully licensed medical practitioner. Efren Moreno, Sr., and Soto sold the drug after it had traveled unlawfully from Mexico into Missouri and hence intended to defraud and mislead his customers, the state of Missouri and the United States.


            Efren Moreno, Jr., admitted that, between December 2003 and April 29, 2004, he received and sold prescription and non-prescription drugs which had entered the United States from Mexico and which were labeled in the Spanish language and not in the English language, as required by federal law.


            Under federal statutes, Efren Moreno, Sr., and Soto each could be subject to a sentence of up to eight years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000. Efren Moreno, Jr., could be subject to a sentenced of up to one year in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $100,000. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard E. Monroe. It was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the Monett, Mo., Police Department.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html