FOOD and Drug Administration (FDA) agents raided two warehouses and a Binondo outlet of a Cavite-based multi-million-peso on-line syndicate and seized more than P5.9 million worth of unregistered beauty and health products allegedly smuggled from Thailand.
FDA Regulatory Enforcement Unit retired Police General Allen Bantolo, with agents from the PNP CIDG Anti-Fraud and Commercial Crime Division (AFCCD), arrested three suspects, identified as Zynor Gacusan, owner of all the products, his sister and assistant, Fea Shane Feniza, and caretaker Chris Ramirez, during the raid on the syndicate’s two warehouses in Bayan Luma, Imus, Cavite.
Bantolo said the operation was a result of a three-month long case build-up, surveillance, on-line test-buys and later, application of two search warrants issued by Judge Agripino Morga of RTC Branches 29-32 of San Pablo City for violation of Sec. 11, paragraph (a) of RA 3720 as amended by RA 9711 or the FDA law of 2009.
“Aside from selling smuggled and unregistered or banned beauty, slimming and whitening health products on-line, the syndicate deprives the government of taxes and fees due them and faces no accountability if these products cause ill-effects to the consumers,” he said.
FDA Director General Nela Charade G. Puno has issued a public advisory in October 2017 against the use of Goree products with high mercury levels that can cause kidney damage, skin damage and discoloration, scarring, among others.
“We have issued a public advisory against Goree and similar mercury-laden beauty products to all law-enforcement agencies and local government units in October last year. But online syndicates continue to smuggle and sold them locally, leaving the consumers vulnerable especially when they have complaints about the sold goods,” the FDA chief said.
Bantolo said the FDA had received reports of customers who burned their skin or had allergies after using Goree and similar unregistered beauty and whitening products and some of them had filed cases in court.
“May mga naging biktima na ang Goree, at nag-file na ng criminal cases. Despite meron nang public advisory and seizure orders ang FDA, they (syndicate) keep on smuggling and selling them in the local market, clandestine pa kaya hindi mo ma-detect, mahirap i-monitor,” he added.
Bantolo said the seized products were brought to the FDA main office in Alabang for proper disposition while charges for violation of Sec. 11, paragraph (a) of RA 3720 as amended by RA 9711 or the FDA Law of 2009 were filed yesterday against the suspects before the Imus, Cavite Prosecutor’s Office.
The raided warehouse at 0573 Margelo St., Carmella Homes yielded hundreds of unregistered health and beauty products worth P2.36 million while the second warehouse located at No. 2 Block 1, Lot 13, Teelane 11, Phase C, yielded P3.55 million worth of similar products. Both are located at Bayan Luma, Imus, Cavite.
The seized unregistered products, packed in hundreds of boxes, are bearing brands as Little Black Coffee, Lida, Dr. Tea Paragis, Detoxi, Slim Fast, Profile Atlas, Lishou Slimming Coffee, Max Slim, Ishou Slimming Caps, Gluta Prime, Supreme Gluta, Pretty Doomz Plus, Maxi Doomz, Aloe Vera 99 Hair Shampoo, Hair Thick, ESI Kojic Soap, Sunblock Cream, ESI Rejuvenating Cream, Goree soap, Goree Hydrating Lotion, and Bentonite Clay Mask.