Woman charged with selling misbranded sexual enhancement drugs arrested at Blaine border


BLAINE - A former California resident charged in 2010 with selling misbranded all-natural sexual enhancement drugs was arrested trying to enter the U.S. at a Blaine border crossing Friday night, Jan. 10.

Helene Ngoc Bich Luong was booked into Whatcom County Jail early Saturday on a U.S. Marshals hold and an immigration detainer. She tried to enter the country through the Pacific Highway border crossing at about 9:30 p.m. Friday, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

A name check at the border revealed Luong had a federal warrant for her arrest from a case in California. Customs and Border Protection Chief Tom Schreiber didn't know why Luong was trying to get into the country.

Luong was charged in 2010 with delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of a misbranded drug, and she was believed to be in Canada at the time of the charges, according to the FBI. She and her father allegedly sold a drug called Vitalex, which claimed to be an herbal sexual enhancement supplement similar to Viagra. It contained an unlisted active ingredient that should have been registered and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the FBI.

Her father, Phu Tan Luong, was serving time for health-care fraud when these charges were filed. He used a previous company to bilk $14 million from Medicare and used the proceeds to start the Orange County, Calif.-based Vitapro, which his daughter continued to run after he started his prison sentence in 2006, according to the FBI. The pair allegedly shipped the drug to people throughout the country. Her father was sentenced in 2010 to one month in prison to serve concurrent with his 10-year sentence for the earlier fraud.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

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