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SDS Blocker investigation ongoing

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LORI K. Haley, U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations spokeswoman, said she cannot confirm the country of origin and manufacturer of SDS Blocker, which was recently the subject of executed search warrants on Guam and Saipan.

“I cannot confirm anything — the investigation is ongoing,” Haley added.

SDS Blocker is a product marketed as a blocker against the virus that causes Covid-19. Last week, federal agents executed search warrants at MedPharms’s facilities on Guam and Saipan.

Asked why HSI is leading the investigation and not the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Haley said HSI is “a critical investigative arm of DHS and is a vital U.S. asset in combating criminal organizations illegally exploiting America's travel, trade, financial, and immigration systems.”

Haley said HSI special agents executed search warrants at MedPharm facilities as part of “‘Operation Stolen Promise,’ HSI’s global campaign to combat Covid-19 related fraud.”

 

Federal law enforcement agents execute a search warrant at the MedPharm compound in Dededo, Guam on Tuesday. Photo by David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

She said the ongoing investigation is jointly led by HSI Honolulu and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, with assistance from Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Enforcement and Removal Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the FBI, the CNMI Department of Public Safety, CNMI Customs, and the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency.

“Operation Stolen Promise” was launched on April 15, Haley said, to combat illicit global trade, financial fraud, international operations, and cyber-crime related to Covid-19.

Haley said the initiative focuses investigative efforts on financial fraud schemes, the importation of prohibited and fraudulent pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, websites defrauding consumers or facilitating illegal activity, and any other illicit criminal activities associated with the coronavirus that compromise legitimate trade, financial systems or endanger the public.

Attorney Charles McDonald on Friday confirmed that a warrant was executed at MedPharm’s warehouses on Guam and Saipan related to the product SDA Blocker.

The product was marketed and sold to MedPharm as an over-the-counter item by a local Guam distributor, the lawyer said.

He did not identify who the Guam local distributor for SDS Blocker was, but The Guam Daily Post reported that R&R Distributor was named in the search warrant.

Rene H. Ramos, MedPharm president, said in a statement that they are fully cooperating with the authorities and taking the matter seriously.

“Once we were informed by the federal authorities that the product supplied by a local distributor did not meet federal standards, we immediately took action and removed the product from our inventory. This is an isolated event specifically related to the sale of the SDS Blocker product we purchased locally and sold via our wholesale company. The warrant was not related to any other items or operations involving our company. The prescription drugs dispensed in all our pharmacies are legitimate, U.S. sourced, and manufactured under strict FDA regulatory compliance,” Ramos added.

 

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