06/04/2013 02:36 EDT | Updated 08/04/2013 05:12 EDT

Side effect of selling illegal erectile-dysfunction pills: may cause jail time

MONTREAL - People who allegedly trafficked industrial quantities of illegal erectile-dysfunction pills into Canada are facing the prospect of jail time.

Two men are accused of bringing in hundreds of thousands of contraband pills made in China and selling them across Canada.

The Canada Border Services Agency says the illegal products were intended for sale on the Internet and in sex shops in different provinces.

Dozens of charges are being laid against Alain Elmaleh and Alain Richer and against 12 businesses Elmaleh owns in five provinces: British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The border-services agency announced today it is laying 37 charges against the two Montreal men under the Customs Act, the Food and Drugs Act and the Criminal Code.

The most serious of the charges against the men, selling contraband, carries a maximum $500,000 penalty and up to five years in prison.

Authorities say the investigation was launched in 2011 when agents found 130,000 oral strips at Montreal's Trudeau airport. Then, a year later, it says it also found 120,000 pills and capsules, and packaging materials, at the head offices of Elmaleh's businesses.

Authorities note the products weren't actually counterfeit versions of common brands.

They were not, for instance, sold as fake Viagra but were unique and unauthorized products that had not been approved by Health Canada.

"They didn't look like other, legitimate drugs," said Dominique McNeely of the Canada Border Services Agency. "They had very evocative names... that left no doubt to the customer as what they might be used for."