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Federal police raid tourist pharmacies  Aug 13, 2008

TIJUANA – About 250 federal agents occupied a four-block area of the Avenida Revolucion tourist district for several hours yesterday searching for drugs: neither cocaine, nor heroin nor marijuana, but medications being sold illegally.

The agents were checking Tijuana pharmacies for falsely labeled medications and controlled substances being sold without prescriptions. They were also on the lookout for pharmacies violating laws that prohibit the sale of medical samples and the sale of medications by the pill rather than in packages.

The pharmacies' customers typically are Americans: “They come here to get medications that they cannot get in the United States without a prescription,” said a spokesman for the Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risk, who would not give his name “for security reasons.”

Pharmacies have multiplied in the Avenida Revolucion area during the past decade to serve Americans searching for lower-priced medications. In most cases, the transactions are legal. But some Americans risk lengthy prison sentences by buying Valium and other controlled substances without prescriptions from Mexican physicians, as required by Mexican law.

The spokesman said several Mexican federal agencies were participating in the operation, including the Federal Preventive Police and the Mexican Institute for the Protection of Industrial Property.

Federal police raid tourist pharmacies
Federal police officers stand on guard in front of a pharmacy in Tijuana, Mexico / AP

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