LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has successfully secured an injunction, $20,000 in penalties and the closure of two Los Angeles businesses allegedly involved in the sale of mis-branded, illegal and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.
"Counterfeit and illegal pharmaceuticals can be deadly," said Feuer. "My office and our law enforcement partners continue to fight to protect our residents. The closure of these two businesses, coupled with strong injunctive terms, sends a clear message to those who seek to prey on our community."
Iris Anabella Gonzalez and her husband Hugo Gonzalez Nava were both placed under a 10-year injunction prohibiting them from engaging in the sale of pharmaceuticals. The court also levied $20,000 in civil penalties and ordered the closure of the two businesses they operated at 4160 S. Vermont Avenue and 2824 S. Vermont Avenue. Both locations have been closed and evicted by the landlords following notice by the City Attorney of illegal activity and the lawsuits.
Employees at the businesses, Tienda Puerto Quetzal and Tienda Quetzal Nava, sold herbal remedies, creams, ointments, stuffed animals, snacks and piñatas and covertly sold dangerous, mis-branded and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, including injectable anti-inflammatories and injectable birth control, along with syringes to inject the drugs. Some employees also allegedly offered to inject the pharmaceuticals for a small fee. The businesses were not registered pharmacies and employees were not pharmacists.
Undercover investigators conducted seven buys at the two businesses purchasing 10 doses of counterfeit Diprospan, an injectable anti-inflammatory drug. Investigators allegedly were also told that they could purchase large quantities of pharmaceuticals on two days’ notice, if a deposit was given. Subsequently, search warrants were executed in May 2018 resulting in the confiscation of 1,725 illicit pharmaceuticals at 4160 S. Vermont and in excess of 1,130 illicit pharmaceuticals from 2824 S. Vermont. The majority of the illegal drugs were mis-branded or not allowed to be sold in the country and require a prescription.
Gonzalez, and Gonzalez Nava were allegedly the suppliers of the illegal pharmaceuticals to both businesses.
The City Attorney’s efforts against counterfeit and banned pharmaceuticals are part of an ongoing partnership with the Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force (HALT), comprised by members of the Los Angeles County Health Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, a licensed pharmacist plus assistance from the LAPD. The task force investigates health care-related crimes including the manufacture, sale and distribution of illegal, mis-branded and counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Many of these products include drugs bearing non-English labels, drugs without lot numbers, warnings or expiration dates, and drugs not in original packaging.
Supervising City Attorney Kevin Gilligan, of the City Attorney’s Anti-Counterfeit Enforcement Program, successfully handled the litigation.
For tips on how to avoid counterfeit and illegal pharmaceuticals, click here for English and here for Spanish.