You wouldn't normally think of industrial bleach as being a miracle cure. Or any kind of cure for that matter. But that didn't stop Louis Daniel Smith from selling many gallons of the stuff by labeling it "Miracle Mineral Solution."
A federal jury in Washington state sat through seven days of testimony, alleging that Smith, 45, of Spokane, sold the toxic liquid as a miracle cure for numerous diseases and illnesses, including cancer, AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, lyme disease, asthma and the common cold.
It then convicted him of conspiracy, smuggling, selling misbranded drugs and defrauding the United States. He faces up to 34 years in prison.
In 2010, the FDA said it had received several reports of health injuries from consumers using the product, including severe nausea, vomiting, and life-threatening low blood pressure from dehydration. Consumers who have MMS should stop using it immediately and throw it away, the FDA said.
Evidence at trial showed that Smith operated a business called “Project GreenLife” (PGL) from 2007 to 2011. PGL sold a product called “Miracle Mineral Supplement,” or MMS, over the Internet. MMS is a mixture of sodium chlorite and water.
Sodium chlorite is an industrial chemical used as a pesticide and for hydraulic fracking and wastewater treatment. Sodium chlorite cannot be sold for human consumption and suppliers of the chemical include a warning sheet stating that it can cause potentially fatal side effects if swallowed.
“This verdict demonstrates that the Department of Justice will prosecute those who sell dangerous chemicals as miracle cures to sick people and their desperate loved ones,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Consumers have the right to expect that the medicines that they purchase are safe and effective.” Mizer thanked the jury for its service and its careful consideration of the evidence.
The government presented evidence that Smith instructed consumers to combine MMS with citric acid to create chlorine dioxide, add water and drink the resulting mixture to cure numerous illnesses. Chlorine dioxide is a potent agent used to bleach textiles, among other industrial applications. It is a severe respiratory and eye irritant that can cause nausea, diarrhea and dehydration.
According to the instructions that Smith provided, diarrhea and vomiting were all signs that the miracle cure was working. The instructions also stated that despite a risk of possible brain damage, the product might still be appropriate for pregnant women or infants who were seriously ill.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Smith created phony “water purification” and “wastewater treatment” businesses in order to obtain sodium chlorite and ship his MMS without being detected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The government also presented evidence that Smith hid evidence from FDA inspectors and destroyed evidence while law enforcement agents were executing search warrants on his residence and business.
In all, the jury convicted Smith of one count of conspiracy to commit multiple crimes, three counts of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead and one count of fraudulently smuggling merchandise into the United States. The jury found Smith not guilty on one out of four of the misbranded drug counts. He faces a statutory maximum of 34 years in prison at his Sept. 9 sentencing.