LOS ANGELES — A Canoga Park man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to using Craigslist to advertise and sell counterfeit erectile dysfunction drugs has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Barry Ronnel Johnson, 38, was sentenced Monday afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder also ordered Johnson to serve one year of home detention following his release from prison. In sentencing Johnson, Judge Snyder cited the seriousness of the offense and the need to send a message of deterrence.
"This sentence should serve as a stern warning for those selling counterfeit pharmaceuticals over the Internet," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. "Imposter drugs like these pose a serious threat to buyers who mistakenly assume these substances are safe."
Johnson pleaded guilty in March to one count of trafficking and importing counterfeit goods. As part of his plea, Johnson admitted importing imposter erectile dysfunction pills from China and India, then using an advertisement on Craigslist to sell these pills.
HSI's probe began after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Los Angeles International Airport intercepted a package in March 2011 containing more than 1,700 counterfeit pills that was being shipped to Johnson's home address. Subsequently, the defendant sold 30 blue diamond shaped tablets labeled "Filagra" to an HSI undercover special agent posing as a buyer on Craigslist.
"As this sentence makes clear, the U.S. government will not tolerate citizens', residents' or visitors' violation of our smuggling and counterfeiting laws," said Todd C. Owen, CBP director of Los Angeles Field Operations. "I am extremely proud of the excellent performance of our officers whose vigilance was clearly demonstrated by their detection of these potentially dangerous counterfeit medications."
HSI, CBP and the Department of Justice are working together to combat intellectual property crimes. In fiscal year 2011, HSI and CBP made nearly 25,000 seizures involving counterfeited and pirated products, a 24 percent increase compared to fiscal year 2010.
As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling and distributing counterfeit products. HSI focuses not only on keeping counterfeit products off our streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind such illicit activity.
As the federal agency responsible for the management, control and protection of U.S. borders, CBP is on the frontline of intellectual property enforcement. The men and women of CBP protect our nation's economy, the safety of its people, and our national security against harm from counterfeit and pirated goods. The continued vigilance of CBP personnel protects United States citizens and businesses every day.