News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington

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

February 14, 2011

JAMES PETER ARMSTRONG, 59, of Richmond B.C. Canada, and his son, GREGORY JAMES ARMSTRONG, 28, also of Richmond, B.C., were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle for selling and dispensing counterfeit drugs with the intent to mislead or defraud. JAMES ARMSTRONG, a retired dentist and a member of the Canadian Paralympic curling team, was sentenced to a $30,000 fine and one year of supervised release during which he must perform 75 hours of community service. His son GREGORY JAMES ARMSTRONG, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, two years of supervised release and a $5,000 fine. On April 12, 2011, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez will determine whether the men owe restitution to the drug companies whose products were counterfeited.

Judge Martinez ordered GREGORY ARMSTRONG into custody immediately, despite his attorney’s pleas that he be allowed to finish the school year in his training program. Judge Martinez noted that the counterfeit drugs GREGORY ARMSTRONG distributed put people “at physical risk of harm... You put them at risk of death.” Addressing JAMES ARMSTRONG, Judge Martinez said that as a retired dentist, “you are a trained medical professional... you knew better,” than to provide counterfeit drugs.

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 pills of counterfeit 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. Over the course of a year, 22 packages arrived at the box 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. Investigations by the drug companies revealed that GREGORY ARMSTRONG was advertising the drugs on the internet. He told an undercover investigator working for one of the drug companies, that he had been selling the counterfeit drugs for three years.

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 was 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 was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Lally.


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