FULLERTON, CA — An Orange County resident was sentenced for illegally importing bulk quantities of erectile dysfunction drugs that he marketed as herbal male sexual enhancement products in a scheme that earned him millions of dollars, the Department of Justice says.
Nam Hyun Lee, 62, a.k.a. “Daniel Lee,” a South Korean national illegally residing in the United States, was sentenced Tuesday to 46 months in federal prison, United States District Judge James V. Selna says.
“Lee pleaded guilty in September to one count of smuggling misbranded drugs, in this case, Sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra,” a Department of Justice spokesman says. “Lee specifically admitted that in late 2016, he caused 21.4 kilograms of the drug to be imported into the United States from China.”
He admitted smuggling both Sildenafil and Tadalafil, the active ingredient in Cialis, that were illegally brought into the U.S. under descriptions such as “Acrylic Paint” and “Glass Bottles,” according to his plea agreement.
Lee used the Sildenafil and Tadalafil to manufacture pills he sold to distributors, who then sold the products to liquor, gas, and convenience stores across the United States, according to court records.
Though his products contained drugs that required a prescription, the labels on Lee’s products either stated that no prescription was necessary or failed to note one was needed – meaning the products were mislabeled, the Department of Justice reported.
Over the course of about 2½ years Lee sold at least $3.5 million worth of pills under numerous names, including “Rhino” and variations of that name. Ultimately, federal authorities shut down his businesses in October 2018.
Until that time, Lee “organized the importation of bulk active pharmaceutical ingredients into the United States from China under pretenses,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “He then used this bulk powder to sell counterfeit prescription drugs across the United States totaling millions in sales.”
At least one of the consumers of [Lee’s] drugs suffered a serious medical condition after taking [Lee’s] counterfeit pills, prosecutors say.
Lee has been in federal custody since his arrest in this case on October 31, 2018, and has agreed to forfeit his $1.2 million home in Fullerton, nearly $458,000 seized from eight bank accounts, $346,324 in U.S. currency, and a 2018 Cadillac Escalade as part of the plea agreement.
Hidden active pharmaceutical ingredients have been identified in products promoted not only for sexual enhancement but also for weight loss, bodybuilding, and pain relief, the DOJ says.
The FDA has issued hundreds of public warnings and recall announcements related to these types of fraudulent products.
The FDA’s Tainted Products database can help consumers identify some of these potentially harmful products. Even if a product is not included in the list, consumers should be cautious about using certain products, especially those promoted for sexual enhancement, weight loss, bodybuilding, and pain relief.
See here for additional information from the FDA about these products.