ATLANTA — Federal authorities have indicted 11 people in Georgia, North Carolina, South Dakota and Belize on fraud and drug charges for selling unapproved prescription drugs over the Internet.

The company, Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals based in Norcross, Ga., marketed the drugs as Canadian through unsolicited e-mails, but the pills actually were made in Belize, officials said Wednesday.

Named in the indictment are Jared Robert Wheat, 34, of Alpharetta; David Dalton Johnson, 37, of Pinehurst, N.C.; David Alan Brady, 40, of Pinehurst, N.C.; Stephen Douglas Smith, 38, of Duluth, Ga.; Thomas Holda, 43 of Duluth, Ga.; Sergio Ronaldo Oliveira, 46, of Hoschton, Ga.; Brad Neal Watkins, 38, of Birmingham, Ala.; David Watkins, 40, of Norcross, Ga.; Steven Blinder, 42, of Aberdeen, S.D.; and two citizens of Belize, Michelle Young, 38, and Guillermo Pech, 28.

Also named in the indictment was Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, of which Wheat is the principal owner.

Attorney Tim Fulmer, representing Hi-Tech, issued a statement saying that the facts will show there is no basis for the indictment. “We are disappointed that the DOJ has chosen to take this action and we will demonstrate the innocence of both the company and our employees,” the statement said. “Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals is committed to managing its business to meet all laws and regulations.”

In a hearing in Atlanta for four of the defendants, U.S. Magistrate Linda Walker let David Watkins out of jail on $75,000 bond. Wheat, Smith and Oliveira are being held without bond, but lawyers for all three say they plan to appeal the ruling.

All four pleaded not guilty to the charges.

During the nearly three-hour hearing, federal prosecutors showed photographs of Hi-Tech’s squalid drug lab in Belize, where pills are stored in large garbage cans marked with “Viagra” and “Lipitor.” In the photos, the equipment used to make the pills is covered in dust and dirt and rooms are filled with unorganized boxes and canisters.

Hi-Tech is estimated to be worth $35 million and to have produced more than 30 million pills.

U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias called the case “disturbing.”

“Customers thought they were getting legitimate and safe prescription drugs over the Internet from Canada at cheaper prices, when in reality they received adulterated fakes that were crudely made in an unsanitary house in Belize,” he said.

Nahmias said the drugs were “not properly produced or regulated. You don’t know what you’re getting.” He said authorities did not know how many customers were involved, but they suspect it was hundreds.

Nahmias said those arrested out of state would have hearings in those states. The only fugitive, he said, was Brad Watkins, David’s brother.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of numerous properties, automobiles and bank accounts, and seeks a money judgment of not less than $19.8 million.

Nahmias said the defendants are accused of making 24 different drugs that they marketed through so-called ’spam’ advertisements over the Internet as authentic generic versions of those drugs being imported from Canada.

The drugs included steroids such as oxymethelone and stanazolol, plus unapproved versions of controlled drugs such as Ambien, Valium and Xanax and prescription drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, Lipitor and Vioxx, Nahmias said.

He said from 2002 through 2004, the defendants allegedly ordered enough active ingredients to manufacture millions of pills.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Danzig said Hi-Tech and its subsidiaries are still operating and breaking the law even though it has been under investigation by federal authorities for a few years. During Wednesday’s hearing, he called the company and those involved “snake-oil salesmen.”

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