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Angeles County | Community News File / Boyle Heights

Mercado Complex Raided for Illegal Medications

October 07, 1998

Los Angeles police officers and county health officials on Tuesday raided El Mercado, a popular shopping complex in Boyle Heights, and confiscated medications allegedly being sold illegally without prescriptions.

The drugs seized included anabolic steroids, Valium and Viagra bought in Tijuana and allegedly sold at 12 shops. Officials estimated the value of the medications in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"This is the biggest busts to date of illegal medications," said Sachi Hamai, one of the county health investigators who took part in the raid.

Georgina Vazquez, a shopkeeper who was raided, said she was providing a service to customers who needed medications but could not afford to see a doctor. However, health officials consider the practice extremely dangerous.

Three women were arrested for possession of steroids, a controlled substance. The 12 shop operators face fines of $5,000 each.

In a related action, hours after the raid, the City Planning and Land Use Management Committee voted unanimously to deny a zoning change that would permit the construction of stalls for 40 street vendors at El Mercado.

Councilman Mike Hernandez said the full City Council is expected to vote on the zoning issue within a month.

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