Concerned citizens had alerted authorities about drugs; hundreds of pounds of pills were confiscated last week.
This photo, taken Tuesday, June 11, 2013 shows a display of drugs sold at vendor stalls at the Hmongtown Marketplace in St. Paul. Police, sheriff�s deputies and federal agents searched the vendors on Tuesday and seized hundreds of pounds of mislabeled or unlabeled drugs.
Several people reported getting sick after using drugs bought at the Hmongtown Marketplace in St. Paul, according to search warrant information made available Monday afternoon.
Last week, hundreds of pounds of medicinal drugs including unmarked or misbranded pills, drugs and syringes were confiscated from the market after overdoses involving such substances were reported, including one that was fatal.
In an affidavit filed in Ramsey County District Court, Sgt. Kevin Navara, a 20-year veteran of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office and member of the Violent Crime Enforcement Team, said he received a complaint in January from the Minnesota Department of Health after a citizen reported that two people were selling medications and giving medical advice at three booths, one of which offered injections and had IVs set up behind a curtain.
The anonymous source said people were “getting sick and/or injured by the medications being sold and does not want to see anyone else get hurt.” The complainant turned over numerous pills and packaging material as evidence, which the department then turned over to police. The majority of the illegal pills were sent from overseas.
In March, Navara met with another person who wanted to turn over suspected cyanide that the person said was purchased from Hmongtown Marketplace. The gray tablet was in an unmarked baggie and looked similar to cyanide found at the scene of a murder-suicide that month.
On March 24, police responded to a murder-suicide where Chue Lor killed himself using cyanide after he killed his estranged wife, Panhia Yang, and her brother.
Another citizen reported that, last December, a relative committed suicide by ingesting cyanide. When that complainant went to the market, the person was able to get cyanide that looked identical.
In 2009, Navara said another complaint was filed with the Food and Drug Administration regarding a man who was going to a booth at the market and received medical injections from one of the vendors. The man became sick from the injections and needed medical treatment.
According to the affidavit, the market’s management and vendors had been warned about illegal sales several times before last week’s search of more than 15 vendor stalls.
Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495