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Tuesday, February 7, 2023


Dec. 8, 2001 – A federal grand jury has indicted two St. Thomas businessmen on charges of distributing thousands of tabs of the narcotic painkiller Vicodin and the popular impotence drug Viagra without prescriptions.
On Thursday, the grand jury charged Rushdi Salem, the owner of V.I. Pharmacy on Main Street, and Salem Salem, operator of American Furniture Corp. They were charged with illegal distribution of a controlled substance, distributing prescription drugs without proper labeling and selling Viagra wholesale without having a wholesale distributor's license.
Earlier this year, the two men were charged with selling hydrocodone — the powerful narcotic sold under the brand names of Vicodin, Lortab and Lorcet — to undercover federal narcotics agents. The investigation of that case uncovered evidence of other sales of hydrocodone to buyers on the U.S. mainland and in the Virgin Islands.
The indictment states that the men conspired to sell a total of 87,300 tabs of hydrocodone illegally.
Hydrocodone is a narcotic that can be addictive. Both it and Viagra have potential toxicity and side effects and may be sold only by prescription, according to information from the Food and Drug Administration.
Federal agents conducted a sting operation at V.I. Pharmacy last year after U.S. Customs agents intercepted a package containing improperly labeled medications going through the mail. The operation included undercover agents buying Vicodin and Viagra from V.I. Pharmacy, according to court documents. Both defendants were involved in the sale, according to an affidavit signed by Patrick Hanks, a special agent with the Customs Service.
Some of the mailings involved in the transactions used the return address of American Furniture, the indictment states.
If convicted of the drug distribution charges, Rushdi Salem and Salem Salem could face forfeiture of $261,900 in assets, the indictment states. If convicted, Rushdi Salem also could lose his pharmacist's license.

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