A Chinese woman pleaded guilty in Texas federal court for selling stimulant ingredients to a dietary supplement maker in the U.S., knowing full and well those illicit ingredients would not be listed on the supplement’s label.
Gao Mei Fang, also known as Amy Gao, admitted to selling the illegal stimulant DMAA to a dietary supplement manufacturer knowing that U.S. retailers couldn’t sell supplements with that ingredient. DMAA, or dimethylamylamine, is promoted for performance enhancement but it is not legal in the U.S. because it is considered unsafe. DMAA can increase heat rate and blood pressure, and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Gao is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 1, and faces up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud and smuggling. She also admitted to making false statements about a shipment of stimulants to the import division of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to court records, she was also charged with obstructing an agency proceeding and introducing misbranded food into interstate commerce.
In October, a Texas federal grand jury indicted Genabolix USA Inc., and Max Pharmatech Inc., as well as China-based Shanghai Yongyi Biotechnology Ltd., and Shanghai Waseta International Trade Co., for attempting to sell in the U.S. supplements that were laced with hidden DMAA. Gao was the supply manager for Genabolix and Yongyi. Four executives from the companies were also charged, including Genabolix principal Hu Chang Chun and sales manager Zhang Xiao Dong, and Waseta principal Xu Jia Bao and overseas sales manager Li Ting Ting.
None of the products with the illegal stimulant were sold to U.S. customers, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
“Protecting Americans from fraud and ensuring the safety of the products they consume are top priorities of the Department of Justice,” Chad A. Readler, acting assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s civil division, said in a statement.