South Korean National Sentenced to Nearly 4 Years in Federal Prison for Smuggling Erectile Dysfunction Drugs Sold as Herbal Products
SANTA ANA, California – A Fullerton man was sentenced today to 46 months in federal prison for illegally importing bulk quantities of erectile dysfunction drugs that he marketed as herbal male sexual enhancement products in a scheme that earned him millions of dollars.
Nam Hyun Lee, 62, a.k.a. “Daniel Lee,” a South Korean national illegally residing in the United States, was sentenced this morning by United States District Judge James V. Selna.
Lee pleaded guilty in September to one count of smuggling misbranded drugs, in this case Sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. Lee specifically admitted that in late 2016, he caused 21.4 kilograms of the drug to be imported into the United States from China. In his plea agreement, Lee admitted smuggling both Sildenafil and Tadalafil, the active ingredient in Cialis, that were illegally brought into the U.S. under descriptions such as “Acrylic Paint” and “Glass Bottles.”
Lee used the Sildenafil and Tadalafil to manufacture pills he sold to distributors, who then sold the products to liquor, gas and convenience stores across the United States, according to court documents. Even though his products contained drugs that required a prescription, the labels on Lee’s products either stated that no prescription was necessary or failed to state one was needed – meaning the products were mislabeled.
Over the course of about 2½ years – until his businesses were shut down by federal authorities in October 2018 – Lee sold at least $3.5 million worth of pills under numerous names, including “Rhino” and variations of that name.
Lee “organized the importation of bulk active pharmaceutical ingredients into the United States from China under false pretenses,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “He then used this bulk powder to sell counterfeit prescription drugs across the United States totaling millions in sales. At least one of the consumers of [Lee’s] drugs, Victim S.S., suffered a serious medical condition after taking [Lee’s] counterfeit pills.”
Lee has been in federal custody since his arrest in this case on October 31, 2018.
Lee has agreed to forfeit his $1.2 million residence in Fullerton, nearly $458,000 seized from eight bank accounts, $346,324 in U.S. currency, and a 2018 Cadillac Escalade.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the United States Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, the Los Angeles Police Department, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the FBI.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jake Nare of the Santa Ana Branch Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Katie Schonbachler and Victor A. Rodgers of the Asset Forfeiture Section handled the forfeiture aspect of the case.