Florida Man Arrested for Distributing $230 Million Worth of Adulterated HIV Medication

By Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully
Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.
June 21, 2022 Updated: June 21, 2022

Lazaro Hernandez, 51, of Miami, was arrested on June 17 for allegedly distributing millions of dollars worth of adulterated drugs for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that were eventually distributed to patients throughout the United States.

Hernandez and co-conspirators established licensed wholesale drug distribution companies in New York, Florida, Connecticut, and New Jersey to distribute “adulterated and misbranded” prescription drugs at steep discounts to other co-conspirators at wholesale pharmaceutical distributors in Maryland, Mississippi, and New York, according to a June 17 press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

These distributors then allegedly resold the drugs to pharmacies throughout America. The pharmacies dispensed these adulterated drugs to unsuspecting patients as well as billed the drugs to health insurers like Medicare.

“Between approximately 2019 and 2021, the wholesale pharmaceutical distributors paid Hernandez and his co-conspirators more than $230 million for the illegally acquired and adulterated prescription drugs. Hernandez allegedly laundered those hundreds of millions of dollars through the use of several corporations in Miami,” the DOJ stated.

The indictment alleges Hernandez to be part of a nationwide scheme to defraud the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as engaging in the distribution of adulterated drugs. Hernandez is said to have illegally acquired large quantities of HIV medication and created false drug labeling as well as documentation to make it appear as if these high-priced medications were acquired legally.

Hernandez is facing charges of conspiracy to deliver into interstate commerce adulterated and misbranded drugs, specific money laundering offenses, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to traffic in medical products with false documentation. He faces a total penalty of more than 100 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General are investigating the case.

Hernandez was also charged in a separate, superseding indictment together with 37-year-old Eladio Vega in the same case, according to another DOJ press release. The indictment charges them with being part of the prescription medication diversion fraud scheme.

Suppliers of the adulterated drugs obtained the medication through health care fraud, theft or burglary, or procuring them via patients who chose to sell them, the DOJ said. As of June 17, eight of the 15 defendants who have been charged in the case have entered guilty pleas.

“The indictment charges Hernandez and Vega with conspiracy to distribute misbranded and adulterated drugs, conspiracy to traffic in medical products with false documentation, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and four counts of mail fraud. It also charges Hernandez with two counts of money laundering,” the release stated. The case is being investigated by the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Miami and FBI Miami.

Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.