News and Press Releases

Counterfeit Drugs Shipped from China and India to Blaine Post Office, Distributed in Canada

October 21, 2010

JAMES PETER ARMSTRONG, 59, of Richmond B.C. Canada, and his son, GREGORY JAMES ARMSTRONG, 28, also of Richmond, B.C., pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to selling and dispensing counterfeit drugs with the intent to mislead or defraud. JAMES ARMSTRONG is a retired dentist and was a member of the Canadian Paralympic curling team. The men face up to three years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez on January 28, 2011.

According to the records filed in the case, on April 9, 2010, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in Los Angeles intercepted a package that had been sent from China containing 2,544 counterfeit pills of the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra and 260 pills of Cialis. The package was addressed to a mail box in Blaine, Washington near the Canada/ U.S. border. The mail box was used by both JAMES and GREGORY ARMSTRONG. The operators of the mail box store provided investigators with a long list of boxes that had arrived at the store for the ARMSTRONGs. Many of the packages came from China and India – countries where many counterfeit drugs are manufactured.

On April 15, 2010, JAMES ARMSTRONG was arrested outside the mail box store. He had picked up the package and examined the contents before leaving the store. GREGORY ARMSTRONG admits in his plea agreement that he distributed the drugs without a license to people who did not have a prescription.

Under the terms of the plea agreements, prosecutors will recommend that JAMES ARMSTRONG pay a $50,000 fine, perform community service hours and be sentenced to the time he already served in U.S. Custody. Prosecutors will recommend a sentence of a year and a day in prison for GREGORY ARMSTRONG. Judge Martinez is not bound by those recommendations.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reminds consumers that the use of counterfeit drugs, particularly counterfeit drugs that are classified by the FDA as prescription drugs in the United States, can pose a risk of illness, injury or death to consumers. There is no FDA oversight over the manufacture, storage, shipment, sale or use of counterfeit drugs. The manner in which these drugs are made, the ingredients contained therein, and the manner in which the drugs are stored and shipped is unknown. As a result, the FDA cannot guarantee the safety and effectiveness of these drug products.

The case is being investigated by the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Lally.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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