Romance pills and potions seized

HERBALISTS aiming to pep up flagging British love lives have been left frustrated today after nearly 30,000 tablets were seized at Felixstowe docks.Customs officers impounded 28,000 tablets of Viagra substitute, along with 5,000 bottles of reputedly romance-enhancing potions.

HERBALISTS aiming to pep up flagging British love lives have been left frustrated today after nearly 30,000 tablets were seized at Felixstowe docks.

Customs officers impounded 28,000 tablets of Viagra substitute, along with 5,000 bottles of reputedly romance-enhancing potions.

The seizure occurred after the contraband arrived at the Port of Felixstowe after being transported from China.

Officers believe it was destined for the London markets, but seized it because the ingredients contained extracts from an endangered plant.

They also said they did not know whether the goods would be fit for the purpose they would have been bought for had they gone on sale.

The estimated street value of the tablets is estimated to be £180,000.

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The contraband was packed in four large cardboard boxes in a container. Each one was the size of a wheelie bin.

The import documentation described the pills and potions as herbal food products.

In total the goods weighed 105 kgs (more than 230lbs).

The haul was seized because one of the ingredients, Cibotium Barometz rhizomes are endangered, and the consignment had no import or export permit.

The tablets and bottles were seized because all endangered plants or animals must have Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species' (CITES) documentation to present to customs on entering the UK.

Although no arrests have currently been made, HM Customs are continuing with their investigation.

Officers today outlined the dangers the tablets and bottles could have posed if they had hit the streets.

Ipswich-based Jim Jarvie, HM Revenue and Customs head of inland detection, said: “It is very important that we stop any pharmaceutical products that contain ingredients from endangered species from entering the market place.

“Buying these products and using them may also pose health risks without the correct medical advice.”

“I would urge anyone with any information about illegal goods to ring our 24-hour confidential hotline 080059 5000”

The maximum sentences for anyone convicted of breaching CITES is up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine.

N What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINKS:

www.hmrc.gov.uk

Cibotium Barometz rhizomes are used in medicine as an anti-inflammatory for the treatment of rheumatism, lumbago, sciatica, leucorrhoea, dysuria, and polyuria in the aged.

The rhizomes, which are the stem and roots of a plant, are harvested at the end of the growing season, the smaller roots and yellow hairs are removed. The rhizome is then chipped into slices and dried for later use.

Viagra (also known as sildenafil) is only available on prescription from British chemists. It is the first oral medical treatment that help in the treatment of impotence.

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