Phoenix PD release details on two-year foreign drug investigation

Posted at 10:25 AM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 22:44:20-04

The Phoenix Police Department is warning the public about illegal foreign drugs being sold at holistic medicine stores called “yerberias,” after a string of busts this week.

During months of investigation, authorities said they found stores illegally bringing medications and health products from Mexico and Latin America. They said some stores sold fake Viagra and Cialis.

Officials that while yerberias are not illegal, some have been selling dangerous drugs that were hidden in cabinets inside the stores.

Authorities announced Wednesday that search warrants were issued at 23 yerberias and 26 suspects were arrested as a result of the investigation. Officers did not specifically name which stores were targeted.

Investigators found one medication banned from the United States and others only available with a prescription. The medications could be expired, ineffective or contaminated.

It is not a “victimless crime,” said Louie Garcia, Homeland Security Investigations Acting Special Agent in charge. “These medications can have ingredients that could harm you and substance that could harm you.”

“This is putting the people of Arizona in great danger and this is a great first step to make sure we get a handle on this,” said Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler. He sponsored a bill to increase penalties for buying and selling unsafe, misbranded and counterfeit medicines. The bill became law in July of 2015.

To find assistance in accessing legal and safe medications, go to the Partnership for Prescription Assistance.