Tijuana Man Gets 30 Months for Selling Fake Erectile Dysfunction Drugs

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Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A Tijuana man who smuggled Mexican pharmaceuticals into the U.S. and sold counterfeit erectile dysfunction drugs to people in San Diego County was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison by a federal judge.

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In addition to time behind bars, Alejandro Hernandez, 54, was ordered by the judge to pay $9,750 to Eli Lilly and Co., manufacturer of Cialis, for losses related to his sale of the counterfeit drugs.

Investigators purchased pharmaceuticals from Hernandez that were not approved for use in the U.S. and counterfeit versions of American pills during a long-term investigation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The Spanish-labeled drugs included the over-the-counter pain reliever Neo-Melubrina, which is often referred to as “Mexican aspirin” and is relatively popular among Hispanics in San Diego. It was banned by the FDA in 1977 because it is known to induce a condition that causes a marked decrease in the number of granulocytes, a type of white blood cell.

“This office is committed to protecting the health and safety of the citizens in our district by keeping counterfeit and unapproved prescription drugs off the market, and by prosecuting individuals who seek to profit from the illegal distribution of such drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman.

Hernandez sold investigators the drugs in locations like a parking lot in Chula Vista and stored the medicines in self-storage units near the border. Authorities earlier this year executed a search warrant in one of those units and seized over $250,000 in unapproved and counterfeit drugs as well as ledgers documenting years of sales, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Hernandez faced a maximum sentence of five years in custody or a fine of up to $250,000 after pleading guilty to the conspiracy charge.

–City News Service

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