LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer today detailed his office’s latest efforts to crack down on local merchants known to illegally sell counterfeit or mis-labeled pharmaceutical drugs as well as warn the public about their serious health and safety dangers.
"My office and our law enforcement partners will fight to protect consumers from the health and safety hazards posed by illegal pharmaceuticals," said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. "We'll continue to aggressively prosecute people who dispense these drugs that endanger communities throughout Los Angeles."
A civil law enforcement action was filed against Narcisco and Johana Gamez alleging illegal dispensing and furnishing of dangerous prescription drugs without a license. possession of mis-branded pharmaceuticals and unlawful possession and sale of narcotics.
The defendants are father and daughter operators of Dulcería El Venado, a storefront selling miscellaneous items including candy, snacks, herbs, tea and piñatas located at 11653 N. Glenoaks Boulevard in Pacoima. During multiple undercover investigations by the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department and private investigators, defendants allegedly sold illegal, dangerous, mis-labeled and counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Neither defendant is licensed to sell pharmaceuticals nor is the business a pharmacy.
The complaint alleges that since at least 2014, the defendants possessed and sold counterfeit pharmaceuticals including the injectable anti-inflammatory drug Diprospan, various mis-branded pharmaceuticals which are prohibited from distribution in the United States, and narcotics which are illegal without a prescription. Investigators conducted multiple undercover operations at the business to purchase combinations of counterfeit and unlicensed pharmaceuticals from the defendants. Subsequent search warrants found stockpiles of mis-branded and haphazardly stored drugs at the business.
The lawsuit calls for the permanent termination of the lease at the business and seeks an injunction prohibiting the defendants from continuing to illegally sell any pharmaceutical products and other unlawful business practices as well as operating any business elated to the manufacture, sale, storage and possession of commonly counterfeited goods. The defendants could also face up to $2,500 in penalties for each violation.
The City Attorney’s lawsuit is part of ongoing operations coordinated through the Health Authority Law Enforcement Taskforce (HALT) including the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, LAPD, and the LA County Dept. of Health Services. HALT operations target distributors and sellers of illegal pharmaceuticals at swap meets and small local stores. Products seized by law enforcement include antibiotics and antibiotic powders, steroid ointments, diet pills, diuretics, pharmaceutical placebos, liquid oils, creams and silicone products that may be used for body enhancements--pharmaceuticals that require prescriptions or cannot lawfully be sold in the United States. These products include drugs bearing non-English labels, drugs without lot numbers, warnings or expiration dates, and drugs not in original packaging.
Consumers can find additional safety tips and information about counterfeit prescription drugs in English and in Spanish.
Deputy City Attorney Kevin Gilligan, director of the City Attorney’s Anti-Counterfeit Enforcement Program, is handling the litigation.