Jim Armstrong, the six-time Brier competitor who won Paralympic gold for Canada at the recent Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games is facing charges in Seattle, WA on allegations he tried to smuggle thousands of counterfeit erectile dysfunction pills into British Columbia.
A story published late Tuesday in seattlepi details the U.S. federal criminal complaint, in which authorities say customs agents intercepted a package of counterfeit pills meant for of Richmond, B.C. resident Armstrong on April 7. Armstrong was arrested a week later retrieving a package from a Blaine, WA post office box.
Charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods, Armstrong is accused of helping to distribute the Chinese-made pills labeled as Viagra and Cialis.
Writing the court, a Food and Drug Administration special agent based in Seattle said customs officers intercepted a box containing 2,544 tablets of fake Viagra and 260 pills of knockoff Cialis. The package was to be delivered to a private mailbox business in Blaine, located just south of the Canadian border.
The agent noted in court documents that the package had been shipped from Hyyuan, China. The drugs and packaging appeared nearly identical to the genuine article.
“Viagra and Cialis are also some of the most common drugs targeted by counterfeiters,” the agent told the court. “Many, if not most, counterfeited drugs are made in the People’s Republic of China.”
Speaking with staff at the mailbox business, investigators were told Armstrong arrived weekly to pick up boxes shipped to the address. The FDA agent concluded that Armstrong received “a very large number of parcels or boxes arriving… from various foreign countries including China and India.”
Armstrong is a retired dentist, whose debilitating knee injuries forced him to leave his practice, and his accomplished curling career. Over the past three years, he has gone from a wheelchair curling rookie to world champion (2009) and eventual 2010 Paralympic champion.
Speaking with investigators, Armstrong allegedly admitted to bringing multiple shipments of the drugs into Canada. He is alleged to have claimed he provided the drugs to another man, who in turn sold them at clubs in the Vancouver area.
Jailed following his arrest, Armstrong was released after posting bond on $20,000 bail. He is expected to return to U.S. District Court on April 30 for a preliminary hearing.
Ryan Durham is a fundraising chair for the Canadian Spinal Research Organization’s Shoot For A Cure campaign, which aims to raise awareness of wheelchair curling and find a cure for spinal paralysis. Durham’s The Dominion Spinal Tap Charity Mixed Bonspiel has raised over $350,000 over the past 19 years.
“These drugs add a quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries that they otherwise would not have,” said Durham. “Previous treatments for erectile dysfunction were quite dangerous and invasive, and the ability to feel like a normal person, to put it bluntly, cannot be understated.”
“However, it sounds like there may have been an eventual intent to traffic to able-bodied people, in bars and clubs. If that’s true, and he wasn’t duped or something, then I for one would be quite disappointed.”
[CCA photo by John Sims]