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Undercover Sting Finds Illegal Prescriptions

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 18 Nov 2010 12:28pm | comments
Agents Display Drugs Similar to Those They Bought.

A statewide sweep of Hispanic grocery stores, known as Bodegas, uncovers a thriving black market for prescription drugs. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the everyday drugs are both illegal and dangerous.

Federal, state and local agents went undercover at the bodegas, and bought prescription drugs.

The problem is all the drugs were either fake or illegal for sale in the U-S.

This week, officers carried out warrants at 27 stores across the state. Homeland Security Agent Rowland Jones says they easily found and bought the potentially dangerous drugs.

"Dosage, tainted, contaminated, not what it is purported to be. These are violations of title 21 statues, of the US code, which is commonly known as FDA statutes," Jones said.

They medications were common prescriptions like birth control, antibiotics, and pain killers. Jones says the stores were selling over them right over the counter.

The prescriptions are especially dangerous because the person who buys them might think they are getting safe medicine said Attorney General Jim Hood.

"First of all, you don't know if they are legitimate. And even if they are, what the dosage should be, what the effects would be. And it is injuring the communities that shop at these bodegas, as well as getting out into other areas of our communities," Hood said.

Most of the drugs were labeled in Spanish or stamped that they are not for sale in the U-S. But even if they weren't Jones said there is no reason the Bodegas should be selling them at all.

"None of these locations have state licenses to dispense pharmaceuticals of any kind. They are not pharmacies," Jones said.

Officials don't think the stores made the drugs, but say the way management sold them indicates that they knew it was wrong.

The investigation was funded by a 100-thousand dollar federal grant to look for counterfeit products called “Knock Out Knock-Offs”, intended to get all types of counterfeit goods out of Mississippi stores.

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Agents Display Drugs Similar to Those They Bought.


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