LOS ANGELES – A 60-year-old Diamond Bar pleaded guilty on Wednesday to smuggling Erectile Disfunction drugs and labeling them as Herbal Enhancement products.
Joseph Jinn, also known as Tzong Hwan Jinn, 60, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to bring drugs into the United States by using false statements. These drugs were distributed without necessary prescriptions in storefronts and over the internet U.S. Department of Justice officials said.
“When it comes to purchasing medications online or in storefronts, never has the expression ‘buyer beware’ had a greater ring of truth,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles. “Imposter drugs pose a serious threat to consumers who mistakenly assume these substances are safe. The reality is that unscrupulous providers who introduce untested products into the marketplace purely to turn a profit are putting their unwitting clients in harm’s way.”
As part of a plea agreement, Jinn admitted to his part in the scheme importing the active ingredients in Viagra and Cialis. To get the medication passed customs officials, the shipments were labeled “cooked powder and tools, Chinese bread baking mixture and other materials. Some of the multi-kilogram shipments were intercepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and were found to have a value of nearly $550,000.
In addition to the smuggling of the drugs into the United States, Jinn told the court that he and his co-conspirators repackaged and sold the pharmaceutical drugs as “Herbal Supplement Sexual Enhancer” without the necessary prescriptions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration previously warned Jinn’s company, but the company continued sales despite the warning. The FDA also issued public warnings, telling consumers that they can interact with other drugs in potentially dangerous ways, even lowering blood pressure to unsafe levels.
“These products were falsely and dangerously marketed as herbal supplements when in truth they were unregulated prescription medications that are harmful to some people,” said Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown. “The scheme began with a smuggling operation, and the conduct continued with the distribution of supplements falsely labeled as natural and safe.”
Approximately $105,000 was seized from three bank accounts during the investigation and as part of the plea agreement, Jinn agreed to forfeit to the United States. Jinn will be sentenced on June 19, 2017, and will face up to five years in federal prison.
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- Joseph-Jinn: Photo from Social Media (LinkedIn)