Purveyors of black-market pharmaceuticals target immigrants
The bootleg medications were smuggled across the border and sold to mostly Latino immigrants in public spaces throughout Los Angeles at swap meets, parks, beauty salons and makeshift stands outside mom-and-pop grocery stores. The drugs were cheap, and the customers mostly from Mexico and Central America did not need prescriptions to buy them. Some of the products featured brand names and colorful packaging that immigrants knew well from their home countries including Ciprofloxacina, a potent antibiotic, and Dolo Nervi Doce translated as "Pain Nerve 12" an injectable B-complex vitamin taken for fatigue. Many were sheer counterfeits. Others, though legal south of the border, were not approved for sale in the United States. Some had expired. Still others would have been legal if sold by people licensed to do so but none of the sellers held pharmacist licenses or any other medical credential. L.A. County authorities seized the drugs last month in an operation that led to the arrest of eight people. Their haul included 100,000 foreign-made pills, compounds and injectable medicines they said could have caused serious harm or even death to consumers.