Plano Woman Peddled Fake Weight Loss Pills: Feds

Woman and alleged Chinese mastermind arrested, federal agents say.

By Scott Gordon
|  Thursday, Mar 25, 2010  |  Updated 9:17 PM CDT
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Plano Woman Peddled Fake Weight Loss Pills: Feds

A Plano woman was arrested in an elaborate undercover investigation into a dangerous counterfeit weight-loss medicine that was smuggled from China and sold in the United States, federal agents announced Thursday.

A Plano woman was arrested in an elaborate undercover investigation into a dangerous counterfeit weight-loss medicine that was smuggled from China and sold in the United States, federal agents announced Thursday.

Qingming Hu, 60, was arrested in Plano on Tuesday and later released on bond, the Department of Homeland Security said.

She is charged with participating in the scheme by selling the pills on a Web site.

The alleged mastermind of the operation, Sengyang Zhou, 30, a Chinese citizen, was arrested the same day when undercover agents lured him to Hawaii.

Zhou, also known as "Tom," is being held without bond.

The fake drugs, sold as dietary supplements or nutritional products on the Internet, were marketed as "Superslim," "2 Day Diet" and "Metzitang," agents said.

The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. postal inspectors.

The FDA said the counterfeit medicine posed a health danger. It issued alerts about the pills beginning in 2008.

The agency said the drugs contained unapproved ingredients, including the controlled substance sibutramine, antidepressants and potent diuretics usually available only by prescription.

Sibutramine can cause high blood pressure, seizures and other medical problems, the FDA said.

According to the criminal complaint, the investigation started in March 2009 when customs inspectors in California intercepted a package containing 6,000 capsules of "Super Slim." It was being shipped to a Colorado man identified only by the initials J.K.

Agents later searched J.K's business and convinced him to cooperate in an undercover operation.

Investigators took over J.K's e-mail account and posed as business partners interested in purchasing large amounts of the counterfeit drugs.

Zhou replied he could ship the pills "without any problem from U.S. Customs" and bragged he was one of the biggest manufacturers in the industry, the complaint said.

Last month, undercover agents arranged to meet Zhou in Bangkok, Thailand.

In the meetings, Zhou boasted he was a millionaire and owned an Audi worth $250,000. He told the undercover agents he manufactured the drugs in a factory in Kunming, China and employed 20 people, the complaint said.

The agents arranged to meet Zhou again in Hawaii on Tuesday and arrested him.

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