A Las Vegas woman was arrested this morning on federal fraud charges for falsely advertising and distributing on her website an “herbal” alternative to street drugs which was actually an active ingredient in cough syrup and a known drug of abuse among teenagers and young adults, announced Greg Brower, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Yamila Abraham, 34, was arrested this morning at her residence in Las Vegas, and is scheduled to appear at 3:00 p.m. today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leavitt. Abraham is charged in a criminal Indictment with seven counts of mail fraud, one count of misbranding a drug, one count of introducing goods into U.S. commerce by means of false statements, and criminal forfeiture.
From about January 2004 to August 2006, Abraham allegedly operated a website called, www.Pleasureherbs.com, which falsely and fraudulently offered for sale “herbal” alternatives to recreational street drugs, including a product known as “Snurf.” Abraham represented that “Snurf” is “the long awaited pill form of 10X extractions of Fevizia, Palenzia and De la Amazon. Each tablet contains 500 mg of these herbal extractions per pill.”
In reality, “Snurf” contains no herbal supplements, but rather exclusively contains dextromethorphan hydrobromide (DXM), which is a stimulant and the active ingredient in over-the-counter cough suppressants. The amounts of DXM in “Snurf” far exceeded the FDA’s recommended dosage for cough suppression. The Indictment alleges that the labeling of the “Snurf” was false and misleading and did not bear adequate directions for use or adequate warnings against use. Abraham purchased DXM in bulk from sources around the country and caused it to be repackaged in capsules for sale as “Snurf.”
The indictment alleges that on May 25, 2005, Abraham fraudulently entered into U.S. commerce approximately 20,000 tablets containing DXM by stating that the packaged contained 20,000 tablets of vitamin B-12. The indictment further alleges that between November 22, 2005, and May 1, 2006, Abraham mailed seven packages of “Snurf,” from Las Vegas, Nevada, to several locations in California, and to Springfield, Illinois, and Indianapolis, Indiana.
If convicted, Abraham faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each mail fraud count, up to one year in prison and a $250,000 fine on the drug misbranding count, and up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the introduction of goods into commerce by false statements count. Additionally, if convicted, the Government seeks forfeiture of properties of the defendant derived from the proceeds of the crimes of up to $186,680, as well as 20,000 tablets of DXM and any equipment used by the defendant to make counterfeit drugs.
This case is being investigated by the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Crane M. Pomerantz.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.