PACOIMA, LOS ANGELES - Dulceria El Venado in Pacoima has the name of a candy store, but L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer said the products sold inside are anything but sweet. Raids turned up a cache of counterfeit prescription drugs.
Feuer and members of HALT, the Health Advisory Law Enforcement Task Force, are uncovering local merchants selling fake drugs such as Viagra, antibiotics and the opioid hydrocodone.
Many are laced with ingredients that could make you very sick or potentially kill you, such as one injectable pain medication containing calcium phosphate that was found.
"Calcium phosphate can cause allergic reaction, inflammation - for what is supposed to be anti-inflammatory medication - infection, and tissue death," said Feuer.
The owners of Dulceria El Venado have been arrested and served jail time, yet the business continues to operate. As a result, a lawsuit has been filed.
Feuer said suing the owners for illegally dispensing dangerous prescription drugs and violating more than 2,000 laws and health codes will be a more effective way to shut down their business for good.
The city attorney says it's hard to determine whether anyone has been sickened by the medications because many people who consume the fake drugs are afraid to come forward.
"They're concerned that by doing so, they'll be vulnerable to immigration consequences," Feuer explained.
Feuer launched an online consumer education campaign to warn consumers to stay away from any medications not sold in a licensed pharmacy.