Four people who allegedly used a website to market industrial bleach as a cure for arthritis, cancer and other illnesses are facing numerous criminal charges in a U.S. court.
Louis Daniel Smith, 42, and Karis Delong, 38, both of Ashland, Oregon, and Tammy Olson, 50, of Nine Mile Falls, Washington, were charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of interstate sales of misbranded drugs, and one count of smuggling in an indictment, unsealed Tuesday, in U.S. Court for the Western District of Washington.
Chris Olson, 49, of Nine Mile Falls was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of the interstate sale of a misbranded drug and one count of smuggling, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Smith and Delong operated a Web-based business called Project GreenLife (PGL) from 2004 to 2011, the DOJ said in a press release.A Smith and Delong arranged the manufacture and sale of a product called Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS), a mixture of sodium chlorite and water, according to court documents.
Sodium chlorite can cause digestive tract burns if swallowed, Smith's indictment said. PGL provided its customers with directions to combine MMS with citric acid to create chlorine dioxide, a potent agency used to bleach textiles, and the company's instructions told consumers to drink this mixture to cure numerous illnesses, the DOJ said.
Chlorine dioxide is a severe respiratory and eye irritant that can cause nausea, diarrhea and dehydration.
Smith and Delong did not immediately return email messages seeking comment on the indictments.
Smith, Delong and others smuggled sodium chlorite into the U.S. from Canada using fraudulent invoices to hide the true end use of the product, the DOJ alleged.A The defendants allegedly said the ingredients would be used in wastewater treatment facilities.
Smith and Delong were the managing members of PGL, the DOJ said. Smith co-founded the company, and Delong frequently handled financial transactions for the company and recruited friends and family to participate in the business, according to the indictment. They paid Tammy Olson to handle all customer inquiries regarding the product, and she continued selling MMS on her own website after federal agents shut down the Project GreenLife website and production facilities, the DOJ said.
Smith and Delong paid Chris Olson to manufacture MMS in a building on his property after regulators from the Food and Drug Administration inspected PGL's original manufacture and shipping locations, the DOJ said.
"The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the health and safety of people with cancer and other serious medical conditions," Stuart Delery, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the DOJ's Civil Division, said in a statement. "Our most vulnerable citizens need real medicine -- not dangerous chemicals peddled by modern-day snake oil salesmen."
Slideshow: How to Spot a Social Media Scam
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.