Cops bust pirated pill conspiracy
Sino-US investigation nails 12 suspects
Eleven Chinese citizens and one
American have been arrested in a counterfeit medicine scheme that spanned 11
countries and involved millions of dollars worth of Viagra and other drugs,
officials from the two countries said yesterday.
Chinese police seized
440,000 knockoff pills worth more than 40 million yuan (US$4.9 million) in joint
action with US law enforcement authorities, the Chinese Ministry of Public
Security said in Beijing.
Most of the pills were copies of the erectile
dysfunction drugs Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, and the cholesterol drug Lipitor,
according to the ministry's Gao Feng.
The case came together on August 26
when police in north China's port city of Tianjin arrested three Chinese
suspects selling the bogus Viagra and Cialis through the Internet. An
investigation showed that the suspects conspired with Richard Cowley, an
American, in transnational counterfeit drug sales.
The American was arrested
in the US state of Washington and has been charged with importing and
distributing counterfeit goods, according to Andy Yu, a counselor at the US
Embassy in Beijing.
Police from both countries jointly raided three
underground factories and arrested eight Chinese men making the fake medicines
in central China's Henan Province on September 2, Gao said.
Cowley and one
of the Chinese suspects, Li Wenhui, allegedly sold large quantities of the
knockoff medicines to 10 countries including the United States, Britain, Israel
The investigation began in September 2004, when Pfizer Inc,
a major pharmaceutical company and the developer of Viagra, informed Chinese
police that fake Viagra was being mailed from China to Britain and the United
States through the mail, Gao said.
"The action marks a milestone in tracking
down transnational crimes between the two countries, and the United States
expects further cooperation with China in this field," said Yu.
November 2004 and July 2005, Chinese police uncovered 1,804 copyright violation
cases ranging from audio visual products to daily necessities, arrested 3,667
suspects and recovered 420 million yuan in financial damages.