tv 2020 ABC May 15, 2015 10:01pm-11:01pm EDT
>> reporter: tonight, a "20/20" exclusive. >> i'm thinking the best way to approach is third street. >> we go in at level ten. >> go, go, go! >> reporter: you're about to hit the streets. >> four ida twenty to control. >> reporter: elite teams able to see something we cannot. >> she's right outside the market. >> code six at 746. >> reporter: spotting counterfeits, the fakes, on street corners, behind closed doors, in shopping malls across america. >> do you have any weapons on you? >> reporter: everything from prescription pills in your medicine cabinet. and you don't even know for sure if the ingredient is in there? and our lab tests, right here tonight, what's really in those pills when the test fails? so this is not an approved drug here in america? >> exactly. >> reporter: to some of those pharmacies with canada in the name promising to save you money. we go undercover. do any of the drugs we order actually come from canada? >> is there a canada drug store here? >> yes. >> reporter: to the jeans that say made in america. >> from china. >> reporter: to the cosmetics.
what's really in that makeup? what are you truly putting on your face? >> i'm with "20/20" and we're rolling right now. everyone in the family. the stunning ingredients inside counterfeit viagra. >> they're actually using drywall as filler. >> reporter: to your children. the bike helmet. sliced in half. failing the test. to the airbags in the family car. one couple stunned when we put theirs to the test. >> whoa! >> reporter: for nearly a year now, "20/20," behind the scenes with the lapd, the fbi, the l.a. sheriff's department. >> l.a. county sheriff search warrant. >> reporter: homeland security, customs and border protection. 24 cities, 3 continents. every corner of america. and we were stunned by what we found. >> you could be brushing your teeth with trace amounts of antifreeze. >> exactly right. >> reporter: good evening. yes, anti-freeze found in that toothpaste. and tonight here you are about to see it all. the secret facility right here behind us. those counterfeit airbags in cars. one family stunned by the "20/20" test. the so-called mac makeup. what was really in it? your children, the bike helmets, the stunning test.
and even your smartphones. are they the real thing? >> david, you spent nearly a year investigating dangerous counterfeits in every corner of your home. even your medicine cabinet. so many of us in search of cheaper medicine. those signs for canada drugs. are they really from canada? and what are the real ingredients? >> and so tonight, it all unravels right before your eyes. starting with everyday prescription medications, dangerous and counterfeit and hiding in plain sight. >> reporter: on this morning, 6:00 a.m., the sun just coming up. >> all right guys we're going to do roll call. >> reporter: and these undercover agents reporting for duty in a parking lot in los angeles. >> we have fda, fbi. >> reporter: on this day, hunting for fake medicine used by everyday americans. in this case, medicine to fight arthritis. >> and what it is, an injectable liquid vial. >> reporter: and authorities say in some cases, there's something else. the offer of someone who will act as a nurse. >> not only do they sell the product, but if you give them extra money they'll inject it for you. >> reporter: we're not talking
about street drugs, like heroin or cocaine. these are everyday prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet. worst case scenario? >> allergic reactions, even deaths. >> reporter: you have seen deaths? >> yes. >> reporter: they map out their raid. first stop, an apartment complex. where inside they think they're going to find counterfeit medicine or pills that came from factories not approved by the fda. medicine most of us buy at the pharmacy. >> you've got everybody on trail. >> 10-4. >> reporter: they arrive, the alleged dealers have no idea. we follow them down the sidewalk, up the stairs, helmets on, guns drawn. unaware of what they'll find. >> residents come out, this is policia los angeles. >> reporter: and out comes a surprise. two middle-aged women, one smiling. and this man, his hands behind his back. and we notice something. they're not young guns out there on the streets. but authorities say that's what makes them believable, trustworthy, for people who are looking for cheaper drugs. and what do they find inside that los angeles apartment?
>> when we start pulling these boxes out it's just a tremendous amount of counterfeit and illicit pharmaceutical drugs. >> reporter: boxes of pain pills, vitamins, antibiotics that you need a prescription for in this country. and authorities point to how they hide them. it hit us the moment they opened the door. we could smell the fish. people are going to look at that and say, wrapped in fish? why on earth? but that is a stealth way of doing this, isn't it? >> absolutely. i mean the minute we open the door, the stench of fish. that's basically to conceal the medicine. >> reporter: we could hear the investigator groan, overcome by the smell, the packaging. is that common? that they all come up with ways to get this medicine into the united states? >> absolutely, because the profit margin is huge. any law enforcement officer opens up a bag and smells like, oh, my god, the fish. they are not going to look any further. >> reporter: unless it's you. >> unless it's me. >> reporter: the suspects arrested, about to be put into unmarked cars. authorities say this woman claimed to be a former doctor from el salvador. tonight, police say her charges are pending.
does she have a license here in the united states? >> she does not. >> we post up here. >> reporter: across town, they're about to pound on another door. they get their guns, a battering ram. they bang on the door. and this is who comes out. and authorities say her husband then slowly coming down those stairs. and again if they don't look like the usual suspects, just look at what comes out next. boxes of illegal and counterfeit medicine. suspected counterfeit prescription drugs, vitamin shots for b-12 deficiency. and terramyacin, an antibiotic for eye infections. ampicillin, for ear infections. amoxicillin, for strep throat. >> this is how she's out there vending it on the streets. >> reporter: and as our cameras roll, authorities point to this, what they call her mobile pharmacy. a cart with drugs they believe were shipped into this country. investigators say they can fetch thousands on a good week. she's under arrest and her charges are pending. now the team working at lightning speed. >> can you please show me code six at 746 alvarado please? >> reporter: and it's not just apartments and little mobile carts. the next raid we're with the
team as they race into a retail store to find what's hidden in the back. >> hello, sir, come over here a second. >> reporter: because inside the store where we see clothes on mannequins, they quickly spot something else. >> there's evidence like insulin syringes up there. >> reporter: right underneath that wig, investigators say, look, a box of insulin syringes. and out back, behind the store, up these stairs, enough drugs, enough medicine, they say, to stock a pharmacy. just listen to this undercover investigator who asks us to blur his face. >> we have no idea what's in them. people injecting each other with these drugs. >> reporter: next up, this flea market. they demand this woman pull up the metal door. we're with investigator brian wong with the l.a. sheriff's department. he is also a trained pharmacist. >> actually for pain, and these are tablets that we've been told are actually counterfeit. if you look at the bottle the label itself, you can tell has actually been counterfeited. the labels were printed with an inkjet printer. >> reporter: soon, on the move again. >> we have a possible target.
>> reporter: and just watch. here's one of the ways they catch their subject. that's an undercover agent right there in the red and white shirt, asking where can she find inexpensive medicine? she is told to go into a market. she'll find a man sitting in the back. which is exactly where we go next. following the investigators. and there he is, sitting right there. they ask for amoxicillin. >> amoxicillin. >> illegally sold? >> illegally sold. >> reporter: and just listen to this investigator straight from american pharmaceutical giant merck, looking at a product they claimed was made by his company. >> geez, this is a counterfeit. we don't actually make anything that looks like this. >> reporter: and we see the ledger book. authorities say many of these drugs, counterfeits. and just look. all of that is cash changing hands. that man in the back now in handcuffs. and not far away, this pharmacy in downtown los angeles allegedly selling antibiotics, even if you show up without a prescription. as she's handcuffed, investigators discover, in a building around the corner through the lobby, a janitor's closet full of counterfeit and illicit drugs. as this plays out, our cameras also in compton, california.
>> so we go in at level ten. >> reporter: they put on their belts, their tactical gear, up the stairs. and while we're there, a customer shows up. >> are you sure you want to show me what you got in there? >> for arthritis. >> for arthritis. >> okay. >> yes, i usually give her two dollars. >> okay, well, you got to make sure what you're ingesting, ma'am. okay? >> reporter: and our team rolling as they discover something else. investigators say they were selling this arthritis rub for pets. they say the problem is they were selling it for human use. >> it's made by pfizer, in mexico. for veterinarian use only. and what are they selling it for? they're selling this to people? >> we have no idea of knowing what people are putting in their bodies. >> reporter: and one more stop. >> we never know what's going on. keep your gear on. >> reporter: an outdoor market. investigators prepare us. they tell us we will likely hear the whistles. vendors signaling each other that the cops have arrived. and just listen. moments after we get there. there are the whistles and the
medicine baking in 100-degree temperatures. prescription pill bottles. heart drugs, injectables, even painkillers, including morphine. and just look at this infant cough syrup we found. this woman arrested and taken away. and we ask, where is all of this evidence, all of this counterfeit medicine, coming into this country illegally, being taken? they show us the secret vaults. where eventually they say the medicine is destroyed. and while we're there, look at this. investigators say the suspects using their own tools to stamp in the pfizer name. >> these pill pressers. that's the pfizer logo, where they were actually manufacturing viagra. >> reporter: they send the pills to pfizer to test them and just listen to what they found in counterfeit viagra. >> they're actually using like drywall as filler. >> reporter: counterfeit viagra with drywall inside. when we come back -- >> david, you want to come over here? >> reporter: sure. we were not expecting this. our cameras rolling. you'll see the confrontation,
customers saying it made them sick. also the counterfeit airbags. the family stunned by our tests. the smartphones. is yours a fake? and the cosmetics. what's really in that so-called mac makeup? what are you truly putting on your face? i'm with "20/20" and we're rolling right now. ultimate straight. our first shampoo system with kera-tourmaline. translation? starts to seal in the straight before you style. to last up to 48 hours. with l'oreal ultimate straight, my hair is shiny, straight... just perfect. so let's get one thing straight. this works! new ultimate straight from l'oreal paris. that's the power of beautiful hair. every day. because you're worth it. (♪ "more smiles" by the jump ups ♪) "i want more yes, more please, i want more fun, more style, i want more love, more smiles, i want more." j-e-l-l-o
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"20/20" continues, with david muir. >> reporter: tonight, the counterfeit goods in every corner of your home. the smartphones, the bike helmets, the toothpaste, the make-up, and the suburban family about to be stunned by their airbag and our test. we're about to uncover it all. >> we go in at level ten. >> do you have any weapons on you? >> reporter: nine months after we first began our investigation, "20/20" is back in los angeles. we wanted to know, are those alleged counterfeit dealers, first arrested as our cameras were rolling, already back on the streets? just listen to the lead investigator describe who they're after now. >> she has a push cart and she's sold counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs. >> reporter: a push cart. a tiny little mobile pharmacy. sound familiar? >> she's wearing a red and gray striped shirt with a gray sweatpants. >> reporter: she is right outside the market. >> that's her little van right there. >> reporter: where did she get her hands on it? >> normally like el salvador, guatemala.
>> reporter: is any route like that legal in the united states? >> no. >> reporter: and soon we're off. several cars. one undercover agent will make the buy. >> she's right there. >> reporter: we park about 100 feet away. an investigator tells us the woman went to re-stock. we wait. >> roger, i should see her any second now. okay, she is right in front of us. she is pushing two boxes, fruit boxes. >> reporter: and look at this tonight. they gave "20/20" the undercover video from the lapd, showing the moment that they say the undercover agent buys suspected counterfeit antibiotics from that woman on the street. >> the buy's been made. >> let's do it. >> reporter: we head in. across the parking lot. >> 4 ida 20. can you please show me code 6? >> reporter: she's gone. >> she's actually going northbound on kenmore. >> stay here. yeah, she's with me. >> reporter: investigators say she was trying to slip away to her apartment not far away. >> explain to her that we just saw her go back over there, enter the courtyard in the back of the storage unit.
[ speaking foreign language ] >> i saw you. we have cameras. >> no. >> reporter: investigators say they find the bag. the medicine that they believe she wheeled right in front of us. a blue bag full of prescription drugs. most of it they believe is counterfeit medication. >> what is this? >> terramycin, optomic ointment. >> reporter: it says pfizer. >> right, exactly. so, usually this comes from central america that they import up here. >> reporter: so this is not an approved pfizer manufactured drug here in america? >> right, exactly. [ speaking foreign language ] >> yes. >> and you don't know what kind of standards they've done to actually make or manufacture this down in central america. >> reporter: and yet, people are buying it on the street for how much? >> this is going for about 40 to 50 dollars. >> reporter: and he shows us the potential danger. >> break away from you, and see how it breaks, it's not even --. and shards of glass can always get inside. we're not even quite sure if this is a true manufactured medication. >> reporter: so, this is a prescription anti-inflammatory
you'd buy for arthritis. >> correct. you can get this and walk right around the corner and inject yourself. >> reporter: i ask her, is she worried at all about her customers? [ speaking foreign language ] >> no. >> reporter: i ask, are you worried about the medicine? silence. and if you are feeling at all badly for her, investigators say she's likely part of something much larger. they believe foreign counterfeiters are supplying her. and i ask, how much money does she make in a week? [ speaking foreign language ] >> she said 800 a week. that's a lie, that's a lie. >> reporter: how much do you think? >> over $1,000 a week. no problem. no problem at all. >> that's more than most americans make. >> reporter: suddenly we notice two men approaching. >> david, you want to come over here? >> reporter: sure. two men who have purchased medicine here before, are now back, angry over what they say it did to them.
he shows us where he had the pain after taking the medication. you can hear him saying it's "abc." and he pulls his shirt down. >> it's abc, i don't want to be on abc. >> reporter: but we tell him, we're here to uncover the possible dangers of counterfeit medicine, and he decides to keep talking. >> yeah, i got an injection from her, for the brain. expired, it was expired. >> reporter: he says his friend got an infection. [ speaking foreign language ] >> reporter: we ask this man who told us to blur his face, what kind of medicine he took. >> what kind of -- what type of injection? >> yeah. >> it was a vitamin -- vitamin shot. >> reporter: and we ask the obvious question. >> why buy drugs on the street? >> they're made from merrick. >> reporter: and we tell one of the investigators, the pharmacist, that he thought the medicine was from merck. you heard him tell us that the drug was from merck. that's how he knew it was okay. >> and it's not, it's not the merck that you're thinking. it's counterfeit. >> reporter: investigators are now checking out the garage behind the grocery store. you can see children on the street watching all this unfold, but right over my shoulder, is the supermarket here in this central los angeles neighborhood and they are convinced that back
here in one of the garages she has essentially a supply of this medicine that she is selling on the streets. >> go ahead, open it. [ speaking foreign language ] >> reporter: so i ask, why sell in the streets? [ speaking foreign language ] >> reporter: she has no answer. then there's the heat. well into the 90s, on the day we were there. she thinks it's okay in the heat. [ speaking foreign language ] >> yeah, she says it's hot. >> reporter: what temperature should this be stored at? >> it's got to be somewhere between 60 and 75 degrees. if there is antibiotic inside, you may not be getting anything in there because it's all been
denatured by the sun. >> reporter: essentially baked out of it. >> right. >> reporter: and along with all that medicine -- the cash. >> this is just from today. i mean, that's a lot for two hours of work. >> reporter: customers are drawn to her because much of the medicine is inexpensive. a lot of people are going to look at her and say, "do you feel sorry for her?" >> you know, i totally understand what people think in perception. but because she's older, a lot of these folks down here feel safe to approach her to buy these. >> reporter: you think it's a trust thing. >> it's a trust, absolutely. >> reporter: when we come back tonight, our producers are out all across america with prescriptions from their own doctors. those storefronts promising cheaper medicine with canada in the name. but did any of the drugs we ordered actually come from canada? and once they arrived, would they past the test? and later tonight, the counterfeit goods in every corner of your home. the toothpaste. >> had antifreeze. >> reporter: the airbag we put to the test. and the makeup. what are you really putting on your face? hey! ♪
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"20/20" continues, with david muir. >> reporter: tonight, "20/20" and our team of producers, out all over america. >> all right, we're good to go. >> reporter: each with prescriptions in hand for real medications, prescriptions from their own doctors. and like so many of you at home, the idea of finding a cheaper place to get those drugs is intriguing. so many small storefronts advertising drugs from canada. but we wondered, are all of those drugs really coming from right over the border? >> is this canada drugs? >> oh, yes. >> reporter: and once you get them, can they guarantee that all of those medicines are pure? with the same ingredients you would get here? from florida, to kansas to michigan. we're getting answers. because americans have long read the headlines that drugs from canada are cheaper. we're in overland park, kansas. a stretch of road like so many across this country. an olive garden, sears and nestled among this cluster of offices, we see the sign, canada direct drugs. inside, our producer simply wants to know how it all works. this friendly woman behind her desk, those paneled walls.
there are no shelves with drugs. no pharmacist. just a computer, her smile, ready to fill out the prescription for viagra. we listen to her pitch. >> it has to go through a pharmacist just like it does here. >> okay. >> so they look at your medical history and make sure nothing's going to counteract with anything else, so -- >> reporter: and our producer asks, where do we pick up the drugs? >> this does take two to four weeks. >> okay, you can deliver it though. right? >> it will go to your house. >> reporter: it can't come here she says. and we asked, where is the medication coming from? from canada? >> this one's coming from singapore. but from pfizer as the manufacturer. >> reporter: she assures us our prescription will be pharmacist approved. >> some pharmacist in canada's got to approve? >> yeah, they are the ones that monitor all the pharmacies they work with in other countries. >> and you'll call me if there is a problem, or anything. >> they'll call me and i'll call you either way. >> reporter: now it's time to pay and our producer asks, cash? credit card? >> unfortunately for now, they no longer take credit card for new patients. it all changed. the credit card companies are
cracking down on any kind of pharmacy that is doing shipping in. it's just ridiculous. >> reporter: he is told to pay by check. we're also in wichita, kansas. just past the jcpenney, the sears, the red lobster -- this building. it houses a law office, a wellness center, and we look for an office we found listed online, called canada drug. >> is there a canada drug store here? >> yes. hi. >> reporter: our producer, met by this employee and led to another room. >> what do you guys use? >> fda monitored manufacturing sites. >> reporter: our producer is getting a prescription filled for zocor, a cholesterol reducing drug. >> do you care whether it comes from canada or over in europe? >> whereabouts in europe? >> it just says it's a product of the european union. it's shipped out of the u.k. >> if it is -- is it the same drug? >> it's brand name so it's still made by merck. >> i don't care. >> wherever it's cheapest. >> reporter: he places the order. and our team on the move again, this time in ocala, florida.
we drive past this cvs and about 50 yards away, this building housing a cpa, an accountant. and on the door, the sign, canadian meds. as we enter, the bookshelves, the framed cpa's license hanging on the wall. and our producer brings a prescription for cialis. he places the order. they tell him it's going to be the cheaper, generic version of cialis and they offer more of the drug than his prescription asked for. >> my prescription was only for three pills, a trial pack, and they weren't able to do that so she actually changed my prescription so that she could order me more pills. >> reporter: and again in this case he says she vouched for the medication and reminded him, this route is far cheaper. >> she said it's completely legitimate, it is full-on safe for you, and it's just 70% to 80% cheaper. >> reporter: and one more stop in belleview, florida. we pass by one of the largest senior living communities in the country. another strip mall, another big
sign for everyone to see, inside, the owner, fills our producer's prescription for propecia, hair loss, from behind his desk images of abe lincoln, john denver, james dean hovering above. they too changed the quantity on the prescription. instead of 30 pills with an option to refill they ordered him 100 pills of a generic, right there on the spot. remember, all legitimate prescriptions from our producers' own doctors. prescriptions filled at storefronts or offices all with canada in the name. what percentage of the drugs you're getting through those storefronts are actually from canada? >> a very small percentage. >> reporter: howard sklamberg is with the fda's global regulatory operations. he's also a former federal prosecutor. >> they could have dangerous contaminants. and that's just a really, really, really big risk to take with your health. and federal authorities point to these images tonight, counterfeit drugs coming from unsanitary manufacturing conditions. look at these fake antibiotics being pumped out by this filthy pill press in columbia. interpol agents raiding this fake viagra manufacturer in peru, and look at this cement
mixer in china. authorities say was used to grind and mix counterfeit antibiotics. but where would our drugs come from? the medicine starts arriving in the mail. remember, we ordered viagra, zocor for cholesterol, a generic form of cialis, and a generic of propecia for hair loss. we sent all four to be tested. our cameras rolling right there in the lab. mike dalton works for drug giant eli lilly's global protection team. >> it's our job to test the product, the packaging and determine if it's authentic or counterfeit. >> reporter: our first drug, the generic cialis that we ordered back at that accountant's office where they changed the number of pills on the prescription. when the package arrived we got a generic drug from india that authorities tell us is not even approved here in the u.s. >> we have enough information here to conclude that this would be a counterfeit tablet. >> reporter: their testing device shows it fails, and what exactly would they find inside? dalton comes from the lab, with the charts. these are the test results right here? >> that's correct. >> reporter: so you can see a
hint of blue going across, and then the giant jumps of red. >> correct. >> reporter: that red is evidence of the impurities. >> correct. >> reporter: and what does that tell you? >> it could be potentially dangerous and harmful. >> reporter: so whoever bought this and is ingesting it has no idea what they're really ingesting? >> that's correct. >> reporter: next up, the zocor, the cholesterol drug we ordered in wichita, kansas. >> wherever it's cheapest. >> reporter: when the medicine arrived, again it didn't come from canada. this one came from spain, shipped through the u.k. chemical tests showed a match for zocor, but it arrived expired. and what would you say to anyone watching tonight about taking an expired drug? >> never take an expired drug. >> reporter: i mean this is for cholesterol, your heart health. >> correct. >> reporter: next up, the prescription for hair loss, the generic propecia. the drug our producer received, again, was not from canada. it was a generic from india. and again, the medicine received is a drug not even approved in the united states. and a red "x," it fails. >> yeah, it's not matching. >> reporter: the chemical test on the drug reveals an unknown ingredient, unknown properties mixed in with the active one.
that's the telltale sign, right there? >> yes, that's an indication that this product was manufactured with some component, that was not consistent with the authentic material. >> reporter: and the last drug we ordered, the viagra. made in turkey, the instructions in turkish. not from canada, authorities say illegally sent from singapore. the fda telling us tonight, after a route like that they cannot vouch for the authenticity of the drug. when we come back, we return to those storefronts with canada in the name. >> i don't know what you're talking about. >> reporter: how do they explain none of the drugs even came from canada? >> i don't know what you're talking about. i'm done talking to you all. >> reporter: how do they explain some of those unknown ingredients. and later here, inside the secret facilities that catch counterfeiters in the act, trying to dupe american families. the toothpaste with antifreeze. the fake beats headphones. your child's safety helmet, failing the test. when we come back.
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>> reporter: "20/20" producers out across america with prescriptions from their own doctors. >> can you fill this with the zocor? >> okay. >> reporter: visiting storefronts with canada in the name. >> brand name zocor, 20 milligrams, out of the u.k. >> reporter: wanting to know where those drugs come from and when they arrive if they have the ingredients they're supposed to have. armed with the results, not one drug from canada, all unapproved by the fda. we go back. >> ready? let's do it. >> reporter: first stop, wichita, kansas. you'll remember, our producer ordering the heart drug zocor. >> hi. >> reporter: from this woman. >> what do you guys use? >> reporter: but remember when that drug arrived we saw that it came from a factory in spain. not approved by the fda. the packaging itself in spanish. and the drug had expired. it was shipped out of the u.k., and arrived expired.
is this legal? >> no. and you're getting something that was approved by nobody, that was stored, you know, who knows where? >> we are from abc news "20/20." we were hoping to speak to canada drug. >> you are the building manager? we are here to talk to canada drug about a medicine that they placed for us that came expired. >> i'll check with them. >> reporter: he comes back telling us the woman we need to see is on her phone. >> i'm waiting for her to get off the cell phone. >> reporter: she never did. we called back to ask about the expired zocor from spain, and here's what the owner told "20/20." >> we placed the order with our rx connection in canada and we have been doing business with them for ten years and we have never had that kind of a problem. >> reporter: next up, overland park, kansas. >> is this canada drugs? >> reporter: where we brought that doctor's prescription for viagra, you'll remember this woman. >> it'll go to your house, can't come here. >> okay, good. >> reporter: it arrived at his home. the medicine from a factory in turkey. the instructions in turkish. mailed through singapore. it was in turkish. it arrived through singapore. does that sound legal to you? >> that does not sound legal to me.
even more importantly, it sounds potentially dangerous. >> reporter: so we found the woman who ordered it for us. >> we are from abc news "20/20." we are hoping to speak with someone about a drug we ordered here, a prescription drug. this was ordered in january from you guys. >> i don't know what you're talking about. >> oh, we actually ordered it from you. he did, in january. >> hi. >> it was a viagra from singapore. >> michael? >> are you the owner of this store, sir? are you, sir? >> can i help you? >> yeah, we're from abc news "20/20." >> reporter: again, we tell him we brought our prescription here. >> okay, well i'll tell you what, you guys walked in. i don't know what you're talking about but if you want to send me questions or fax it, we'll be fine. >> reporter: and so we did, and we have not heard back. and next, belleview, florida, to canadian discount rx. remember, our producer had a prescription for propecia for hair loss, 30 pills, with refills. instead, he was given an order for 100 pills right on the spot
when it arrived it was not propecia, but a generic from india. a drug not approved in the united states, you can't sell it here. and in the lab, that "x" showing it fails the propecia test. they say it has the active ingredient, but it also has unknowns, impurities. >> would you want to put unknowns in your body? >> reporter: so there's nothing legal about this? >> correct. >> reporter: and so we go back. >> we're from abc news "20/20." we want to talk to you a prescription medicine that was ordered here. >> okay, what about it? >> do you guys have a pharmacy license here? >> no. >> do you know this was an illegally sent medicine into the united states? >> who said that? >> the fda says it and we also had it tested. found that it had impurities in it. >> we have never had that happen before. >> reporter: all the while, customers waiting, standing right there as we ask how all this works. and we asked him about changing the prescription. remember, he ordered 100 pills right away instead of 30 with refills as the doctor had ordered. >> you actually sent 100. >> that's what the manufacturer sent.
have you got a law license to be in here? >> no, we'll leave if you want us to leave, sir. >> okay. then get out. >> reporter: and so we leave. next up, ocala, florida. that cpa office where we brought a doctor's prescription for cialis. they ordered us a generic. it was made in india, sent from singapore, a stop in switzerland. never canada. and the lab tests showed us this. this one comes back with a fail. an unknown substance in the pill. >> the fda has not approved this drug in the united states. >> all right. here's the cpa office, and canada meds. we're from abc news "20/20." >> reporter: she nods her head. and then the cpa walks out of her office not far from where they filled out our producer's prescription. >> we would like to speak to you about a medicine we ordered here. >> i'm sorry, i don't have anything to do with it. >> reporter: even though it was just four months ago we were getting our prescription filled right here, she tells us this. >> i'm sorry, but this is a cpa firm and so you are speaking to the wrong person. >> reporter: she sends us
elsewhere for answers, to an office 15 minutes away. >> we're from abc news "20/20." >> reporter: the canadian flag hanging right there and the owner is waiting. >> i got some lines i can read you, but you're not welcome in our store. >> okay. so we can leave. if you want to give us a statement that would be fine. >> americans are allowed under federal law to order up to a 90-day supply of non-controlled medications. >> reporter: so you heard what he said. he said, "americans are allowed under federal law to order up to a 90-day supply of non-controlled medications." >> that is not correct. >> reporter: he tells us tonight the fda allows for a very rare exception when someone has a serious health condition for which there is no treatment here in the u.s. >> americans are allowed to order whatever they want on the internet. >> reporter: when we come back, inside the secret facilities tonight. the fake smart phones, we're right there as they peel back the truth. the "20/20" airbag test. and what was sold as mac makeup, what the lab tests revealed. luckily, she protected her dress from odors
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>> last year, over 23,000 seizures. >> reporter: where boxes they deem suspicious are pulled off planes, trains, cargo ships, and brought here where customs and border protection agents are ready. "20/20" is allowed in. >> david. >> reporter: nice to meet you. inside this building in newark, new jersey. 30 minutes outside new york city, we see them. we're about to fly you right over the mountain of boxes. stacked four, five boxes high. inside, investigators say countless counterfeits. as i stand here, i mean, look at the boxes. i mean, it almost seems overwhelming. >> well over 25 million every year. >> reporter: but right here tonight, you're about to see the tricks revealed. car parts. smart phones. your clothing. right down to the real ingredients in that counterfeit make-up. many of these products end up in medicine cabinets in homes across america. >> exactly right, david. >> reporter: this looks exactly like the crest you'd get at the supermarket. >> at a glance it looks like the real thing, but it's counterfeit. we have found trace quantities of antifreeze.
>> reporter: where is this toothpaste coming from? >> china. >> reporter: and it's money on american products going straight to the chinese. >> exactly, right. >> reporter: and tonight, the number one piece of advice they say, if you're buying toothpaste or another product at a deep, deep discount then you should always beware. then he shows us the "made in america" jeans. so these are supposed to be "true religion?" >> yes. >> reporter: these are the real thing? >> no, these are not. from china. >> reporter: and look at the trick revealed with these boots. >> non-descript, generic brand, mega gear. >> reporter: but we notice something. on the sole of the boot, a rubber piece added to hide something. >> this one piece affixed right here, but if you peel that away, you'll see that it has the timberland brand underneath. >> reporter: they were just hoping to get it here, rip off that piece of rubber, and sell it as the real thing. so once they arrive at the store, they can take this off? >> exactly. >> reporter: and sell it as a timberland boot. the agents are going box by box. they allow us to start opening, too. i mean, this is hours of them
opening up boxes here. >> it is. >> reporter: and you don't know what chemicals have been used in the making of this product? >> exactly. >> reporter: meantime tonight, 1,200 miles away in a building in miami, they're ripping through boxes too, and they notice something. >> it's empty? yeah, it's empty. >> reporter: boxes for car parts shipped with nothing in them, and that's the point. >> this is a trick box. sometimes they'll do that, and then send the actual pieces separate. >> reporter: and another trick revealed as our cameras roll. look at the smartphones. the fake trademark they were hoping to hide from border patrol. >> so i'm going to go ahead and peel it off, and that's the brand name they're trying to hide. >> reporter: underneath the black tape, authorities say the fake samsung trademark. and where do these knock-offs end up? investigators say stores like the one they're about to bust, as our cameras roll. homeland security agents on the move. we're in new york city's little italy neighborhood. right away, investigators see counterfeit ugg boots, and a secret room hidden by scarves. filled with counterfeit michael kors and tory burch bags.
the more expensive fakes where you might least expect them. the bathroom. the fake chanel bags hanging right over the toilet, and when the counterfeit bags come in, investigators say the counterfeit logo isn't even on them. they snap it on and make the sale. >> chanel. they just pop off the little metal things on somebody's handbags and this makes them counterfeit. >> reporter: in los angeles, a patch sewn on to fool the border agents. >> they were hiding a trademark north face mark. >> reporter: a louis vuitton bag. wrapped in a disguise. and another trick. >> it looks like a no name brand headphone. >> reporter: watch as he pulls the box of fake beats headphones right out of the other box. but handbags and headphones are one thing, helmets are another. putting your family at risk. watch as they put the counterfeit helmet to the test. >> it was cleaved into two pieces, which is a failure for the test. >> reporter: the real helmet is not supposed to slice in half. >> the real specialized helmet on the inside has this. it's really strong. >> reporter: and perhaps more
alarming than the bike helmet, what's going into your family car. >> hi, david, we're the larsons from folsom, california. i'm bob, this is my wife, tami. >> reporter: the larsons, reaching out to "20/20" and standing in front of their used car they bought, knowing they needed to replace the airbag. but what they didn't know was that the airbag they bought online was from this guy. the man who owned this home in indian trail, north carolina. who tonight is behind bars. >> the man accused of selling fake car parts. >> reporter: look at what investigators say they found in igor borehdin's home. more than 1,500 fake airbags. $60,000 in cash hidden in the walls. authorities say he sold $1.7 million dollars worth on ebay, calling himself "airbag pros." labeled a "top-rated" seller. ebay are telling us tonight that they have since tightened their selling policies. >> we found later, the guy who had sold us the driver's side airbag had sold us a bum bag. >> reporter: we offered to tow the larsons' car to an authorized dealer to have their airbag replaced with an authorized honda replacement. and we're about to test the
airbag they've been riding around with. first, they set off a real airbag. and now the airbag that was in the larsons' car. >> 2, 1, wow! >> shrapnel. >> shrapnel, a lot of shrapnel. you would have had a face full of plastic. >> we have a piece of the air bag cover over here. this is probably about 40 feet from the actual explosion of the airbag. can you imagine this being in the driver's face of a car? >> reporter: and one last danger tonight. perhaps already on your face. one we've been following for months now. our team first heading to this discount store, not unlike so many across america. this one right in the heart of new york city, out to buy mac cosmetics. >> you guys have good stuff. >> reporter: and we take it to the lab. the "20/20" test. comparing it to the real thing. dr. whitney bowe, a dermatologist, is waiting inside. about to take us through the results. so this is the mac that we tested? >> exactly. >> reporter: what did you find?
we start with the lead. so the lead was at least five times higher than what you should be allowed? >> it was an order of magnitude higher than where we should be. >> reporter: and then the copper. and think about this number. the fda limit on copper is 100 parts per million, and in the makeup tested, more than 2,000 parts per million. so in this test there is so much copper that there's no question in your mind there is copper flowing through the blood stream if you use this product. >> there is free copper flowing through the bloodstream, hurting kidneys, and hurting the liver. >> reporter: but the most frightening discovery in that makeup was the beryllium, a category one carcinogen. beryllium can be a cancer causer. >> beryllium is a known carcinogen. >> reporter: so we go back to where we bought it. armed with the results of that makeup test, we're back at that new york city store where one of our producers bought the makeup. i'm with "20/20" and we're rolling right now. our producer remembers this woman selling the makeup. is this supposed to be real? >> i don't know. >> reporter: we asked her, does she remember selling the so-called mac product to us?
>> you guys have good stuff. >> reporter: do you remember working with her? >> i don't know. >> reporter: do you remember her face? >> i bought this from you, remember? >> reporter: and how does she explain the test results? it's lead, copper, beryllium. these are cancer causing agents. >> oh. >> reporter: and we reveal to her what estee lauder, the maker of mac, told us about this counterfeit product. mac told us this is not the real thing. they told us they've never even sold eye shadow in a box like this. >> i don't know, i don't have any idea. can i see the paper? oh, yeah. >> reporter: when you see these test results, do you feel badly? >> yes, of course. >> reporter: you feel badly about it? >> mm-hmm, yeah, of course. >> reporter: and tonight, months after that moment, after that worker told us she felt bad, we go back to see if there are any mac cosmetics on those shelves. the same saleswoman is talking to our producer. >> do you have any brand names or anything? >> reporter: no brand names, no counterfeit mac cosmetics. one small victory for the army of counterfeit investigators who work this every single day.
but across the country tonight, back in los angeles, where we saw firsthand all of that prescription medication, counterfeit medicine sold in plain sight. we go back nine months after our first visit. back up those stairs, right up to that apartment door. >> hi, how are you? >> reporter: remember, this was where investigators made those arrests, saying they were hiding counterfeit medication in the fish. and i begin by asking, do they have any medicine? they tell us, no medicine here. i then point to all of the fish. boxes and boxes of it. >> no, my son, she says. >> reporter: and while they tell us there's no medicine, we are overwhelmed again by the smell of fish. >> oh, can you smell the stench? >> reporter: yeah, you can smell it. >> right, right. >> reporter: and investigators are perhaps overwhelmed by the thought that their work is hardly over.
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