Earlier this month, a federal jury in Houston convicted a Puerto Rican man of trafficking counterfeit prescription medications over the internet. According to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, 41-year-old Luis Angel Garcia Torres was convicted in the Southern District of Texas of 12 criminal counts related to the sale of counterfeit versions of the drugs Cialis and Viagra. The federal jury found Mr. Garcia Torres guilty of conspiring to traffic in the fake drugs, placing misbranded and counterfeit prescription drugs into interstate commerce, counterfeiting drug trademarks, and trafficking in the fake drugs. The investigation was jointly conducted by the nation’s Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
According to investigators, Mr. Garcia Torres procured and sold Chinese manufactured versions of the two erectile dysfunction drugs online. Mr. Garcia Torres reportedly represented and distributed the Chinese drugs as genuine Cialis and Viagra pills despite that both prescription drugs are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The investigation into Mr. Garcia Torres’ drug sales began in November 2009. Between January 2010 and August 2010, undercover federal agents reportedly purchased approximately 3,600 drug tablets from Mr. Garcia Torres through the mail. After the pills were analyzed by the Food and Drug Administration’s Forensic Chemistry Lab and the drug companies that hold the Cialis and Viagra patents, federal investigators obtained a search warrant for Mr. Garcia Torres’ email address. Through his email correspondence, agents determined the fake drugs were of Chinese origin. Investigators also claim they uncovered a conversation between Mr. Garcia Torres and his Chinese supplier regarding how to avoid detection by law enforcement officers.
Mr. Garcia Torres is currently out on bond awaiting sentencing. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison without the possibility of parole and a fine of up to $2 million. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 30th.
The penalties for those convicted of federal drug crimes are normally quite high. Although a convicted individual’s sentence will vary based on the type and quantity of a drug, where the accused fits in the distribution chain, and how much information the accused may have available to use for bargaining with prosecutors, a person’s freedom could be at stake. If you were accused of a federal drug crime, you need an experienced drug crimes defense lawyer who is familiar with federal sentencing laws on your side.
Normally, individuals accused of federal drug crimes do not choose to go to trial as plea bargaining is often widely used. In fact, more than 90 percent of the nearly 2,000 defendants prosecuted for such a crime in 2010 entered a guilty plea. Although the specific facts of Mr. Garcia Torres’ case are unknown, it is the duty of a qualified defense attorney to ensure his client fully understands the risks associated with going to trial. Because all contact with the fake drug suppliers was apparently made through the internet and investigators searched his online communications, Mr. Garcia Torres may not have had much new information to bargain with. This potentially limited his ability to obtain a lighter sentence by cooperating with authorities. Still, Mr. Garcia Torres may benefit from hiring a skilled federal appeals attorney in the near future.
No one charged with a federal drug crime should face the situation without a capable Pecos criminal defense lawyer on their side. If you live in West Texas and were charged with a federal drug crime, contact a knowledgeable drug crimes defense attorney today.
Federal Government Threatens to Cut Funding for Juvenile Justice Programs, Texas Criminal Lawyer Blog, April 19, 2012
Houston jury convicts distributor of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement News Release dated June 14, 2012
June 14, 2012: Federal Jury Convicts Distributor of Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals, U.S. Department of Justice Press Release