The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Wednesday announced the filing of several lawsuits as part of an ongoing effort to disrupt the sales of banned, misbranded and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
The three lawsuits name a total of eight defendants — none of whom are pharmacists — accused of unlawful drug sales at four different locations, City Attorney Mike Feuer said.
“My office and our law enforcement partners continue to fight to protect our residents from the health and safety hazards posed by illegal pharmaceuticals,” Feuer said. “Through these lawsuits, we seek to shut down what we allege are the unlawful activities of these suppliers, and to send a clear message to others who prey on the community that they’ll be next.”
The lawsuits were brought in conjunction with what Feuer’s office characterizes as “one of the largest multi-agency law enforcement investigations in the country’s history into illegal and counterfeit” drugs. The task force effort, which includes law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Arizona, has targeted 22 locations and resulted in the recovery of 438,000 doses of illicit pharmaceuticals, according to Feuer’s office.
The defendants — none of whom could be reached for comment — include Catalina Campos and her husband Jose Vasquez, who allegedly used their former residence in North Hollywood to store and sell large amounts of illegal, misbranded and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, including counterfeit Cialis and Viagra, doing business as Magic Blue LLC.
Flavia Maria Rodriguez and a man believed to be her husband, Salvador Enrique Velasco Sanchez, are accused of engaging in a conspiracy to import illegal, misbranded and counterfeit pharmaceuticals from Central America and Mexico and distribute them throughout the United States.
Feuer’s office said the third lawsuit stemmed from the investigation into Flavia Rodriguez, which led to a South L.A. storefront business called Tienda Puerto Quetzal, and its registered owner, Cesar Acosta, and then to the identification of a similar operation called Variedades Quetzal Nava allegedly run by Iris Anabella Gonzalez and her husband, Hugo Gonzalez Nava. The lawsuit, which names all three as defendants, alleges 39 violations relating to the sale of misbranded, illegal and counterfeit pharmaceuticals by three individuals at the two storefront operations.
Acosta’s business covertly sells illegally misbranded pharmaceuticals alongside openly sold herbal remedies, creams, ointments, stuffed animals, snacks and pinatas, the lawsuit alleges. The business is not a registered pharmacy, its employees are not pharmacists, and investigators allegedly were told that they could purchase large quantities of pharmaceuticals on two days’ notice, if a deposit was given, according to the complaint.
Variedades Quetzal Nava allegedly sells similar illegal, misbranded and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, and investigators determined that its operators are the suppliers of the illegal drugs to both businesses, according to the lawsuit.
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