Woman accused of selling face creams tainted with mercury on Facebook


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A Central Valley woman was arrested Tuesday on federal charges after being accused of selling face creams tainted with dangerous levels of mercury.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California could not link the arrest to what happened to a Sacramento woman in June, but some things were strikingly similar.

“Well, honestly, I’m at mixed emotions just because no one ever really thought this would ever happen from a face lotion,” said Jay, who did not want to reveal his full name in order to protect his mother’s identity.

For 12 years, Jay’s mother had been using a Pond’s cream she knew was being altered in Mexico.

The California Department of Public Health says that product was laced with methylmercury and its toxic effects on the central nervous system caught up to Jay’s mother, leaving her semi-comatose.

Five months after falling ill, she is still in a semi-comatose state.

Toxic mercury is created when bacteria react with its inorganic form in water, soil or plants. It is also the culprit in what federal agents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations say was being peddled in parking lots in Tulare County.

The products were called Crema Esparza and Crema Jimena. Maria Estela Esparza Magallanes is accused of creating and promoting them on Facebook after smuggling them in from Mexico.

Agents say her two victims have suffered physical effects but nothing as severe as Jay’s mother, who can’t walk or really talk, leaving her husband and five children devastated.

“I’m kind of glad that they’re not on the street type of thing, not selling that product anymore,” Jay said about the recent arrest. “But it doesn’t really make anything different for my mom.”

The investigation continues into who is responsible for taking a vibrant mother away from her life.

“It’s been really, really hard, you know,” Jay said. “The house feels super empty. We’re just trying our hardest to hold it all together.”

Maria Estela Esparza Magallanes bailed out of jail and was forced to surrender her passport.

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