Online diet pills land Oregon man in jail
In pill bottles labeled with a scorpion and a warning that the capsules are “not intended for human consumption,” authorities say a Oregon man sold diet pills on his site, ScorpionDNP.com.
Inside the alleged pills, officials say they found a toxic and unapproved additive called 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP), an ingredient used in explosives, dyes and pesticides. DNP was used in diet pills until 1938, when the Food and Drug Administration declared it to be “extremely dangerous and unfit for human consumption”.
Today, the 33-year-old man accused of selling these homemade pills containing DNP from China was sentenced to one year in federal prison.
Jonathan E. McGraw, of Newberg, was sentenced by a federal judge in Chicago after pleading guilty to “a federal charge of bringing a new drug into interstate commerce without approval,” according to a Nov. 22 press release. from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.
McGraw’s defense attorney Michael Johnson told McClatchy News it was an “extremely sad case.” McGraw had “no ill will,” Johnson said, and never wanted anyone to be hurt.
McGraw intends to surrender, Johnson said, and will be eager to resume his life after the one-year prison term.
The DNP Pills Investigation
The FDA opened an investigation in the summer of 2017 after learning that a 20-year-old Illinois man died of a DNP overdose in March of that year, according to court documents.
“According to his parents, the man had lost a lot of weight in the months leading up to his death and frequently complained of being hot,” the government’s sentencing document reads. âIn March 2017, his grandmother found him in his bedroom sweating profusely and convulsing. He was taken to the emergency room, where he told a nurse that he wanted to kill himself and that he had taken DNP pills for this purpose.
It was not clear whether the man originally purchased the weight loss pills, but officials say he purchased them after speaking with “ScorpionDNP” on reddit.com.
Officials say McGraw sold the capsules to customers across the United States through ScorpionDNP.com and through posts on sites like Reddit.
The site listed the capsules for sale, ranging from $ 0.75 per capsule for a 125 mg dose to $ 2.40 for a 400 mg dose, and authorities say Bitcoin was the only payment accepted. All buyers had to purchase a minimum of 40 tablets.
“The website further included a calculator that allowed users to calculate ‘estimated weight loss’,” according to court documents. “The calculator asked users to enter, among other things, their weight, food intake, DNP dose and other information.”
Officials note that the website also included links to downloadable brochures that explained the risks of DNP, including one that warned that DNP is “by far the most dangerous drug available to dieters.” He also stated that overdose means “you will absolutely 100% die” and “do not overheat or you will die”.
In October and November 2017, an undercover FDA agent purchased two different shipments of capsules. Authorities say the pill bottles had no reference to an intended use for weight loss and did not mention DNP. Rather, he said the pills should be dissolved in water and sprayed on the plants to protect themselves from pests.
After the first purchase, the agent says he emailed ScorpionDNP saying his wife “panicked” after reading the label. Officials say McGraw replied, âMy apologies, sir. The bottle is labeled with the legal use of DNP because it is illegal to sell DNP for human consumption.
The two discussed using the pills for weight loss, and authorities say McGraw provided his dosage recommendations.
At around the same time, officers monitored his home and followed him as he brought similar items to the post office. The government obtained a search warrant for one of the packages, officials said, and tests confirmed the pills contained DNP.
With sufficient evidence, the government received a search warrant for McGraw’s home, where they found a lab in his garage and “significant amounts of DNP.”
Examining his electronic devices, officials said they found an April 2016 text message McGraw sent to his brother. The text read: âI have consulted the laws. With this new labeling, it is completely legal for both parties involved. If it is seized, inspected and even tested, it is still legal.
Between April 2016 and December 2017, officials say records show McGraw cashed in over $ 200,000 in Bitcoin. Its gross sales are estimated to be between $ 95,000 and $ 150,000 on over 1,000 shipments and sales.
McGraw retorts that he made a turnover of around $ 30,000, although officials say this is “significantly inconsistent with the other evidence presented.”