By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A retired Korean law enforcement officer who authorities say was found with nearly 40,000 fake Viagra and other erectile dysfunction pills in his luggage at the Los Angeles International Airport was charged on Wednesday with trafficking in counterfeit goods.
Kil Jun Lee, 71, admitted that the pills were not for his own use and "if he were to use all those pills it would kill him because he has a heart condition," according to an affidavit filed by a Customs Enforcement agent.
Lee, a naturalized U.S. citizen who now lives in California, was detained on returning from Korea last month after Customs and Border Protection agents using X-ray equipment spotted small packages wrapped in aluminum foil inside his golf bag, according to the affidavit.
Further inspection of the golf bag and Lee's luggage turned up a total of 29,827 counterfeit Viagra tablets, along with 8,993 fake Cialis pills and 793 bogus Levitra tablets, authorities said.
A subsequent analysis found that the ingredients of the pills, which were valued by law enforcement at $700,000, did not match those contained in the genuine products, authorities said.
"When it comes to counterfeit pharmaceutical products, never has the expression 'buyer beware' been more true," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations for the Los Angeles office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"Part of what you're paying for when you buy established brands, regardless of the product, is quality control," Arnold said. "Imposter drugs like these pose a serious threat to users who mistakenly assume these substances are safe."
Lee was scheduled for an initial court appearance in District Court in Los Angeles later on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)