HOUSTON – A 47-year-old Mexican national who illegally resided in Conroe has been convicted of conspiring to smuggle prescription drugs into the United States and receiving and delivering misbranded drugs with the intent to defraud, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.
Carolina Aguilar Rodriguez admitted she purchased prescription drugs from individuals who were not licensed wholesale distributors, knowing they had come into the United States covertly and illegally from El Salvador and Mexico. These were not manufactured in the United States, were not approved for use in the United States, should not have been present in the United States and did not contain labels and warnings in English as required by law to protect consumers. One of the drugs - Diprospan - was found to be counterfeit as well as misbranded and did not contain the active pharmaceutical ingredients listed on its labeling.
Rodriguez admitted to selling, dispensing and administering a wide variety of the prescription drugs from her store Naturavida located on Blalock Road in Houston to customers who did not have prescriptions or any type of physician’s orders. The drugs included antibiotics, antivirals, erectile dysfunction drugs, birth control, hormones, pain killers, diuretics and anti-inflammatory medications such as the injectable corticosteroid anti-inflammatory Diprospan.
Rodriguez is not a physician or pharmacist. She also did not label the prescription drugs with specific physician instructions for each patient as required by law.
Rodriguez further admitted that she did not tell customers she obtained the prescription drugs outside of the legitimate supply chain from distributors who illegally and covertly smuggled the drugs into the United States.
U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon accepted the guilty plea and has set sentencing for Jan. 26, 2018. At that time, she face s up to five years in federal prison for the conspiracy as well as another three years for receiving and delivering misbranded drugs in interstate commerce. She also faces fines up to $250,000. She will remain in custody pending that hearing.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Food and Drug Administration - Office of Criminal Investigations and the Houston Police Department - Major Offenders Division conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Redlinger is prosecuting the case.