Allentown Man Sentenced to Over 1 ½ Years for Importing Illegal Controlled Substances from China and Fraudulently Selling them as ‘Dietary Supplements’

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PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Leandro Rodriguez, 45, of Allentown, PA, was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit approximately $669,000 by United States District Court Judge Edward G. Smith for his participation in a conspiracy to smuggle mislabeled drugs into the United States from China, and sell them as dietary supplements.

In October 2021, the defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to smuggle and resell misbranded drugs, and delivering those drugs in interstate commerce, in order to defraud the United States by impeding and impairing the lawful functions of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The charges arose from Rodriguez’s participation in a conspiracy from early 2011 until March 2017 to import from China and resell to consumers, substances falsely labelled as “all natural” dietary supplements, but which the defendant knew contained the undeclared ingredient Sibutramine, a dangerous controlled substance that could not legally be sold in the United States.

“The United States sets standards for controlled substances in order to keep American consumers and patients safe,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “The defendant knowingly skirted our country’s importation laws, and sold dangerous drugs under the guise of benign supplements. This scheme put many people’s health and safety at risk.”

“Misbranded drugs that are disguised as dietary supplements and contain potentially harmful hidden ingredients place American consumers at risk,” said Special Agent in Charge Mark S. McCormack, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Metro Washington Field Office. “We will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who endanger the U.S. public health by distributing fraudulent and potentially dangerous products.” 

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“For nearly six years, Rodriguez smuggled into the United States a dangerous controlled substance from China, just to mislabel it as a dietary supplement and peddle it to consumers, seemingly with no regard for the health and safety of those who consumed the product,” said William S. Walker, Acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI Philadelphia.  “HSI Philadelphia was pleased to partner with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Postal Inspection Service on this important investigation.  As a result of strong federal law enforcement collaboration, Rodriguez will be held accountable for his criminal acts.”

The case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and Homeland Security Investigations, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary E. Crawley.

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