Brand Protection Stories Podcast

November 1, 2021

Counterfeit Therapeutic Drugs

Undercover operative Bobby Sherman takes us through a counterfeit pharmaceutical story that crosses continents. The largest Class 1 recall of drugs in UK history. The fake therapeutic drugs, for cancer, high blood pressure, psychiatric disorders and other serious conditions, made it into the legitimate supply chain of healthcare facilities and pharmacies. By luring the counterfeiter to the U.S. through an appetite for luxury goods, Bobby secured the arrest and conviction of the manufacturer of the counterfeit drugs and obtained the crucial evidence for the conviction of the distributor in the United Kingdom Crown Court. Both criminals were sophisticated businessmen, living excessive, lavish lifestyles of greed without regard to the lives they put in jeopardy.

Bobby Sherman

Bobby Sherman is second-generation law enforcement. His father spent 25 years in the New York City Police Department and his brother was in the Houston Police Department for 27 years. After completing his enlistment in the Marines, Bobby joined Houston Police Department in 1981. During his tenure, he served as a patrol officer and supervisor in the high-crime districts of Houston. In 1991, Bobby joined U.S. Customs as an Air Interdiction Officer, serving as a crewmember on counter-narcotics interdiction aircraft in Colombia, Peru and the Caribbean. He was transferred back to Houston in 1996 and took on the title of Special Agent, receiving training and certification as an undercover operator. He was assigned as primary UC operator for a New Undercover Operation targeting Intellectual Property Rights Crimes, Initially, Bobby conducted counterfeit luxury goods and athletic shoes investigations. Considered low priority in the agency, and less “glamorous” and “macho” than narcotic cases. Teased by his former colleagues to be “handbags of mass destruction” cases. 

In 2007, Bobby developed information resulting in the Los Angeles seizure of 1,000,000 counterfeit Viagra tablets concealed in Snagglepuss plush toys. He  used the seizure as springboard for identifying and conducting undercover meetings, resulting in arrests of members of a Palestinian organized crime group based in Chicago, Gaza, Jordan and West Bank. This was also a record seizure of counterfeit Viagra in Jordan.

From footwear to 16 years working pharma cases Bobby was deployed throughout Europe, Hong Kong, Thailand, India and Panama. He conducted the first, and the second, undercover operation in China resulting in arrests and dismantling of China-based manufacturers and trafficking of pirated DVDs and counterfeit drugs. Bobby worked IPR cases and cases targeting the trafficking of armaments and technology to embargoed countries for the Office of Foreign Assets-Dept of Treasury until his retirement in 2017. 

In total his career spans 21 years and even though Bobby’s colleagues may have teased him about the nature of some of his cases being counterfeit luxury goods, it was an IPR case in Chicago with connections to Jordan that almost got him killed. Moments before an undercover meeting buy/walk in Chicago, he received information from an informant in Jordan that the suspects I was about to meet were going to kill him and steal the money he carried for the buys.

November 1