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Imperial Valley Doctor Admits Using Unapproved Cosmetic Drugs for Years

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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

Thursday, August 24, 2023

SAN DIEGO – Tien Tan Vo, a doctor practicing in Imperial Valley, has pleaded guilty to crimes related to his years-long use of foreign unapproved and misbranded cosmetic drugs.

Vo pleaded guilty to receipt of misbranded drugs in interstate commerce and being an accessory after the fact to an accomplice, who smuggled the unapproved drugs into the United States from Mexico. 

In his plea agreement, Vo admitted that none of the injectable botulinum toxin or lip fillers used by his clinics between November 2016 and October 2020 was approved for use in the United States. This specifically included a botulinum toxin product called “Xeomeen” and an injectable lip filler called Probcel—both products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

Vo acknowledged that he received $100,767 in gross receipts for almost four years of cosmetic services performed with unapproved drugs and devices.  As part of his plea agreement, he has agreed to forfeit that amount, and to pay a fine of $201,534.  Vo also agreed to pay restitution to victims of his offense.  

In his plea agreement, Vo admitted purchasing most of his unapproved drugs and devices from the operator of a “med spa” in Mexicali, Mexico, who smuggled them into the United States without declaring them. 

“All members of our community should be able to trust that their doctor is acting in their best interest,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Haden. “Through this prosecution, we are protecting patients from unapproved and potentially unsafe drugs and will always seek to thwart those who would exploit patients for financial gain.”

“Injecting unapproved medicines poses a significant threat to public health and can have serious consequences for individuals,” said Chad Plantz, Special Agent in Charge for HSI San Diego. “Together, with our partnered agencies, we need to educate people of the dangers caused by using unauthorized botulinum toxin (the active ingredient in Botox®, Xeomin®, and similar products) and thwart those who smuggle and illegally use it for cosmetic procedures.”

“The FDA’s requirements help ensure that patients receive safe and effective medical treatments. Evading the FDA process and distributing unapproved drugs to U.S. consumers will not be tolerated,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert M. Iwanicki, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, Los Angeles Field Office.  “We will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who traffic in unapproved drugs.”

Sentencing is set for November 16, 2023, at 9:30 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Allison H. Goddard.

Potential victims related to this case may provide or request information by emailing USACAS.Cosmetic.Case@usdoj.gov.

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 23cr1700                                               

Tien Tan Vo                                                    Age: 47                                   El Centro, CA


Accessory After the Fact to Entry of Goods by Means of False Statement – Title 18, U.S.C., Sections 542 and 3

Maximum penalty: One year in prison, fine of $100,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss

Receipt in Interstate Commerce of Misbranded Drugs and Delivery for Pay or Otherwise – Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 331(c) and 333(a)(1)

Maximum penalty: One year in prison, fine of $1,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss


Homeland Security Investigations

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations

Federal Bureau of Investigation

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General 

USAO - California, Southern

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