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California Man Sentenced for Smuggling Fraudulent Cognitive Enhancement Drug Into the United States from China

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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Massachusetts

February 15, 2024

Defendant sold “gas station heroin” as supplement to online customers in Massachusetts

BOSTON – A California man was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Springfield, Mass. for conspiring to smuggle tianeptine, a highly-addictive drug that claims to enhance mood and cognitive functioning, into the United States from China.

Ryan M. Stabile, 37, of Pasadena, Calif., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni to two years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Stabile was also ordered to pay a forfeiture of $1,833,922. In September 2023, Stabile pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and two counts of introduction of misbranded drugs with intent to defraud and mislead.

“Mr. Stabile knew how addicting and dangerous tianeptine was and yet it did not stop him from smuggling the illegal drug into the United States and selling it under false pretenses,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “He continued to profit off the addiction of others even after he was indicted.”

“Misbranded and unapproved drugs that are smuggled from overseas can present a serious health risk to those who buy and use them. Tianeptine is an unsafe drug that is not approved for any use in the United States. All smuggled drugs carry additional risks of unknown ingredients and unknown manufacturing conditions,” said Fernando McMillan, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigation, New York Field Office. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who attempt to traffic in these dangerous, misbranded, and unapproved drug products.”

Stabile was the owner of Supplements for Work, a company which sold the misbranded drug tianeptine, commonly known as gas station heroin, online. Stabile, through his company, marketed tianeptine as a mood enhancer and claimed that it improved cognitive functioning and falsely represented that he was selling tianeptine for research purposes only, even though he sold tianeptine to individuals for personal use.

Stabile smuggled tianeptine in multi-kilogram quantities from China into the United States, importing between 10-15 kilograms of tianeptine per month from a Chinese supplier. Once received, Stabile divided and repackaged the tianeptine and resold it on his websites in five- gram, 10-gram and 20-gram quantities for prices between $55 and $175. Stabile’s tianeptine sales averaged $250,000 per month and comprised 95 percent of his company’s profits.

Additionally, following his indictment by a federal grand jury in November 2019, Stabile continued to sell tianeptine on the internet for several years while on pre-trial release, under a different company and website called Ultra Vulgar Festival Drip.

In total, Stabile made at least $2.2 million in illegal tianeptine sales.


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