Two Southern California residents are facing federal charges in connection with a long-running scheme to smuggle fraudulent dietary supplement ingredients into the United States from China, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.
Lynn Chau, 43, of Rosemead, and Bao Luu, 42, of Mira Loma, were charged in a seven-count indictment returned by a Los Angeles federal grand jury on Nov. 7 and unsealed Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The indictment also charged Pure Assay Ingredients Inc., Chau’s import company located in City of Industry, and two Chinese citizens, Alex Wang and Ivy He, who worked for Pure Assay in Chengdu, China.
According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to deceive the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors by mislabeling certain stimulants and other questionable ingredients as non-controversial substances to evade government scrutiny during import.
The indictment alleges that the defendants sold the smuggled substances to dietary supplement manufacturers in the United States for use in consumer products. In one instance, the indictment contends that Chau and Luu assembled a false shipment to fool FDA into believing that Pure Assay destroyed substances the agency blocked from distribution.
In reality, Pure Assay already had shipped out the real products and presented mislabeled substitutes for destruction, prosecutors allege.
“This case alleges a scheme designed to generate profits at the expense of the public’s health and safety,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna. “Members of the conspiracy are charged with smuggling prohibited substances, such as steroid precursors, and attempting to prevent U.S. officials from learning the true nature of the shipments that made their way into so-called dietary supplements. We will continue to investigate and prosecute people involved in deceptive practices that endanger consumers.”