Two San Luis Obispo police officers plead guilty to bringing misbranded drugs from Mexico to the U.S.

Two carried prescription pharmaceuticals — used for ADHD and obesity management — across the border from Mexico

acornejo@thetribunenews.comMay 3, 2010 

San Luis Obispo police officers Armando Limon and Dan McDow pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge of transporting misbranded prescription pharmaceuticals across the border at the San Ysidro port of entry near San Diego.

The seized drugs, used to stimulate the central nervous system, are intended to be used for treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and management of obesity.

The two officers, who remain on paid administrative leave with the San Luis Obispo Police Department, were detained Sept. 15 by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on suspicion of transporting illegal contraband into the country at the border crossing.

The two officers were found in possession of more than 850 pharmaceutical capsules when stopped by ICE officials, said Lauren Mack, spokeswoman for ICE in San Diego.

It was not known Monday why the officers may have had the drugs.

McDow pleaded guilty last Wednesday to possession of several Mexican pharmaceuticals, including methylphenidate, sibutramine and diethylpropion.

Limon pleaded guilty to possessing methylphenidate and diethylpropion.

Neither of the men had prescriptions for the medications, according to the plea agreement.

Both men were released from custody on their own recognizance.

“It is the city’s understanding that the officers will not be required to serve any jail time and will be on unsupervised probation for one year,” City Attorney Christine Dietrick said in a news release.

The city is conducting a separate personnel investigation consistent with the procedural requirements of Peace Officers’ Bill of Rights, which governs the investigation of administrative charges against peace officers, according to Dietrick.

As of March 16, the most recent information available, Limon had been paid $75,393 and McDow $75,817 by the city while on paid administrative leave.

Methylphenidate is typically prescribed for treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy and is a controlled medication one class below marijuana, according to San Luis Obispo pharmacist Shilpa Patel.

Sibutramine and diethylpropion are both used to manage obesity.

Patel said all three medications, either individually or together, can be snorted or injected to stimulate the central nervous system — increasing the potency.

“Sometimes they are taken just for recreation, but because of their addictive qualities, recreation turns into drug abuse,” Patel wrote in an e-mail. “These drugs do have a street value and have more potential for abuse when taken together. If taken for extended periods of time or just at a high dose, these medications can cause death.”

Both officers have worked for the city since 2002 and will remain on paid administrative leave until the internal investigation is complete, Dietrick said.

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