Flea market drug vendors charged

NEWSCENTER 23
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POSTED: Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 5:44pm

UPDATED: Friday, August 16, 2013 - 8:32am

The sale of illegal drugs at Hidalgo County flea markets has nine people looking at jail time.  Bond is set at $100,000 per person. Two others involved in the operation are still at large.  The Hidalgo County Sheriff is using this case as a warning for other illegal vendors.

"We will continue to put the pressure on other flea markets or anybody else that is selling pharmaceuticals without a license," said Lupe Trevino.

Investigators raided several vendor stands on Wednesday at four different flea markets.  Undercover agents purchased drugs from 11 different vendors. Some were said to be making over $5,000 a day from illegal prescription medication sales.  The drugs arrived from across the border, and it was revealed that they also came in from across the globe.

"We found that a lot of these drugs, like we suspected initially, were coming from Mexico," Trevino stated.  "But we've seen a lot of them made in Australia and other foreign countries."

The FDA will test the drugs in a lab to determine if they are authentic or placebo pills.  Some of the more popular drugs being distributed were Cialis, Viagra, and Levitra.

The Hidalgo County Sheriff's office is currently working with the District Attorney to determine whether or not the flea market owners will face any criminal responsibility for the illegal drug vendors.

"If the D.A. sees that there is a legal nexus and we have the sufficiency of probable cause to arrest and then prosecute, it will be done.  But it is an issue we are still addressing," said Trevino.

Self-medicating is initially a dangerous thing to do, but drugs purchased from someone other than a licensed physician have additional risks.

"A lot of the medicines are placebos that are painted over with lead paint.  That itself is a different problem, so it's a health issue," said Trevino.

Selling placebo drugs is a criminal charge in addition to selling authentic prescription medication.  The Hidalgo County Sheriff believes this is just the tip of the iceberg in uncovering illegal drug vendors.

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