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 FDA accused of international kidnapping, illegal detention of prominent Ecuadorian herbalist

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PostSubject: FDA accused of international kidnapping, illegal detention of prominent Ecuadorian herbalist   Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:28 am

21 December 2009
Pam Rotella
Allegations of kidnapping and illegal detention by the US Food and Drug Administration are being made after its seizure of a prominent herbalist from Ecuador.
Greg Caton, owner of Alpha Omega Labs, was seized from Ecuador in a move outside of extradition procedures, and against the orders of an Ecuadorian Federal judge. The alleged kidnapping occurred three days prior to a pending hearing for Caton, having the appearance of an attempt to evade compliance with the court's expected ruling.
Christopher Kelly of the FDA refused comment on the FDA's current actions in Ecuador, or its legal argument for subverting extradition procedures within Ecuador and removing Caton via police seizure. Kelly referred inquiries to the US Marshals and US Attorneys offices.
When contacted, a US Marshals spokesman denied involvement in the seizure of Caton from Ecuador, and said that the Marshals' role in this case would be their usual duty of holding Federal prisoners, probably after Caton reached Florida. The US Attorneys office was also contacted for comment but has not responded.
Speaking via phone from Ecuador on Saturday, Caton's wife Cathryn said that the FDA finally explained its reason for her husband's abduction during Florida court proceedings. The FDA claimed that Greg Caton violated his supervised probation under a 2003 plea of selling "unapproved drugs."
"Selling unapproved drugs" is a charge usually filed against herbalists who sell herbs and also make claims about the herbs' medicinal properties. The FDA does not allow medicinal claims about food or herbal products by those who also sell them. No actual "drugs," in the traditional sense of the term, were involved in the 2003 Caton case.
Cathryn Caton said that Caton's company Alpha Omega Labs (AltCancer.com) had been selling herbal products after Caton's release in the US, but that the herbs were sold from Ecuador where herb sales are legal along with information on their medicinal properties. In fact, Caton had moved his company to Ecuador specifically because he could continue working with herbal remedies without restrictions on the information provided to customers.
At issue is whether Caton's herb sales in Ecuador would violate Caton's probation in the United States. This legal issue could not be addressed in Ecuador, as Caton was seized before his court date there. It is possible that Caton's abduction was meant to preempt such legal precedent from being set on this matter.
After arriving in Florida, Greg Caton was given a detention hearing and arraigned for violating his supervised release. A hearing is scheduled for December 28th to move him to Louisiana. According to his wife, Caton will probably be held in Florida until early next year, and then moved to Louisiana for hearings on probation violation charges. So far, Caton has been represented by a court-appointed attorney.
The method used to remove Caton from the country -- kidnapping -- is probably the most egregious charge leveled against the FDA. Before his scheduled court date, Ecuadorian police illegally removed Greg Caton from his cell in Ecuador without court authorization, and put him on an American Airlines jet. One of Cathryn Caton's contacts at the airport recognized a US State Department employee, and happened to know the man's identity due to his presence at Greg Caton's hearings in Ecuador. Caton's contact informed her that the State Department employee was directing the Ecuadorian police on how to slip Greg Caton out of Ecuador.
The Ecuadorian Federal Judge in charge of Caton's appeal was contacted and went to the airport in person, where he informed American Airlines that they were engaged in an illegal action, and presented paperwork ordering the release of Greg Caton. American Airlines refused to allow Caton off of the plane, and claimed that they were not subject to Ecuadorian laws even while in Ecuador, that they were technically US soil (a privilege enjoyed by embassies). The jet was then allowed to leave the airport, and Caton was transported to Miami, Florida. The Ecuadorian police officers flew out of the country on the airplane with Caton according to witnesses, but the US State Department employee who directed the action stayed in Ecuador. Cathryn Caton wants to know who paid for their airline tickets.
Along with questions of why the FDA felt entitled to subvert the Ecuadorian legal system to capture a mere herbalist, tactics by the agency prior to Caton's court appeal are also being scrutinized. The Catons claim that one FDA agent in particular, John Armand, seemed to be "rogue," and engaged in questionable tactics such as using a witness accused of embezzling $20,000 from Caton's company as a witness against Caton. Cathryn Caton suspected that the employee was led to believe that landing her bosses in jail would help her to avoid jail time herself. Caton witnessed the woman with the FDA agent in court, making claims that helped to build the agent's case.
The FDA also refused to comment on whether Armand or other agents in charge of Caton's case had past affiliations with pharmaceutical companies or competitors of Caton's products. One well-known and widely criticized fault of the Food and Drug Administration is the "revolving door" between pharmaceutical companies and the agency charged with regulating them, the FDA. Employees of the FDA often are hired from drug companies, or are offered high-paid jobs at the very pharmaceutical companies whose drugs they helped to approve. This cozy relationship is seen as a major flaw in the way drugs are approved and regulated in the United States.
In addition to the FDA's star witness being an accused embezzler, Caton was also told that the judge who signed her husband's original deportation order had been bribed with promises of green cards for his relatives in the United States. (Caton will not identify the witness or the name/position of the US agent offering green cards, for the protection of her witness.)
The appeal of that judge's deportation order was scheduled to be heard by a Federal Ecuadorian judge with no such questions surrounding his integrity. However, that higher judge's orders at the airport in Guayaquil were ignored and Greg Caton was flown out of the country. Cathryn Caton is working with the political process in Ecuador to have the people responsible for her husband's abduction investigated and prosecuted. President Correa of Ecuador had already expelled 2 diplomats after the FDA attempted a similar abduction of Greg Caton in 2008.
Caton's company, Alpha Omega Labs (AltCancer.com), is the maker of anti-cancer herbal blends such as "Black Salve" (a bloodroot-based topical product) and "Cansema" (a chaparral-based capsule blend). Notably, a new cancer drug named "Chemex" based on chaparral was mentioned on Caton's own web site:
"Chaparral (Larrea tridentata, Larrea mexicata) -- An herb long reverred for its miraculous medicinal properties by Indians of the Southwest U.S., chaparral's secret is known to be contained in a substance known as NDGA (nordihydroguauretic acid). This organic anti-oxidant is the basis of several recent cancer cures which have been filed with the U.S. patent office, most by Chemex Pharmaceutical of Fort Collins, Colorado (USA). The FDA has granted drug status to Chemex for a remedy for a pre-cancerous skin remedy (actinic keratosis) which uses NDGA as its base. Our products contain specially harvested chaparral which have been specimened and known to contain 16-18% NDGA by weight for maximum concentration."
Bloodroot-based topical solutions are traditionally used to treat skin cancer patients. In his book "Spontaneous Healing," Andrew Weil, MD, mentioned using bloodroot paste on his dog. Weil was satisfied with the results.

_________________
"The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the greatest liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth."
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
Arthur Schopenhauer
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FDA accused of international kidnapping, illegal detention of prominent Ecuadorian herbalist
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